Estate Planning Lawyers
Having a plan for what will become of your assets and estate when you are no longer here is something that few people want to think about. However, while the topic can be hard for an individual or family to broach, having an estate plan in place is absolutely critical for many, and can provide peace and mind, and comfort if something should happen. At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnet, P.A., our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can provide you with the legal counsel and advice you need when making a plan for your future.
Who Should Have an Estate Plan?
Many people assume that an estate plan is only for high net worth individuals with a lot of assets. However, the majority of people who have any assets at all, and certainly those who have family, should think strongly about creating an estate plan that includes a will, power of attorney, and living will at the very least. Those who do have more assets, such as retirement accounts, real estate, and businesses should absolutely create an estate plan, as these plans are not only used to provide for beneficiaries, but also to minimize tax consequences and protect assets.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Even if you feel as though you don’t have much, or that the division of your estate won’t be complicated, having an estate plan in place is strongly recommended. There are multiple benefits to an estate plan, including:
- Guaranteeing that your property goes to beneficiaries of your choice;
- Allowing for some property to escape the probate process;
- Ensuring that your property is not divided per intestacy laws;
- Minimizing taxes and estate expenses;
- Making sure that a guardian is named for any minor children;
- Ensuring that any dependents are provided for; and
- Spelling out your wishes for things like who you want to be in charge of the division of your estate, who should make financial decisions on your behalf, and what type of medical treatment you want/don’t want.
If you do not have an estate plan in place and something happens that renders you unable to communicate or results in the loss of life, your family members may have the burden placed on them of trying to interpret what your wishes are, and therefore what to do. What’s more, your estate may be divided in a manner that is not consistent with your wishes.
What’s Included in an Estate Plan?
A good estate plan is a multifaceted blueprint for what will happen to your belongings and assets after your death. However, more than just dividing your wealth, an estate plan can be used to make charitable contributions, ensure that a dependent is provided for, name a guardian for a minor child, and more. As such, a great estate plan might include many of the following:
- Will. A will is a legal document that is used to distribute your assets, name a guardian for a minor child (or even a beloved pet), and name an executor of your estate who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes expressed in your will. Wills can be changed at anytime during the course of your life, so creating one now–even if you think your mind may change in the future–is advised.
- Trust. A trust is a type of arrangement in which assets are held for beneficiaries in a “trust,” and the trust is managed by a third party, known as the trustee. There are multiple different kinds of trusts, such as living trusts, revocable trusts, special needs trusts, charitable trusts, and more. There are also many benefits of trusts, such as that trusts mitigate the probate process and taxes. Our attorneys are very knowledgeable in the different trust types and trust formations – contact us today to learn more.
- Power of attorney. A power of attorney is a person whom you appoint to take over and make decisions on your behalf in the event that a healthcare condition or emergency renders you unable to do so. Your power of attorney should be someone you trust, and who understands your wishes in regards to matters, including healthcare and financial matters, and would act in accordance with these wishes if you were not able to express yourself.
- Advanced directive. An advanced directive, also called a living will, is a written, legal document that outlines what your preferences are for healthcare and medical treatment in the future, should you be unable to express these preferences as a result of your medical condition. For example, an advanced directive may be used to address common issues such as resuscitation, ventilation, tube feeding, palliative care, organ donation, antibiotic use, and whether or not you want your body to be donated upon your death. Having an advanced directive in place helps to ensure that your wishes are carried out, even if you are unable to express these wishes verbally.
Our Estate Planning Services
In addition to helping you and your family form a will, living will, advanced directive, power of attorney, or trust as part of your estate plan, we also provide myriad other estate planning and related services, including probate administration services, probate litigation, and ancillary administration for non-Florida residents.
Create Your Estate Plan Today
Our lawyers understand that creating an estate plan can be a difficult thing to do – you may not have spent a lot of time thinking about how you want your estate divided or what your wishes are for healthcare in an emergency. However, these are things that you should start thinking about, talk to your family about, and put in writing in the form of a legal document. Most parts of an estate plan can be changed in the future, but having something in place now can provide you with a sense of comfort for both yourself and your family.
To learn more about estate planning or start the process of creating an estate plan today, call our law firm at 1-888-219-4561. You can also visit us in person, or send us a brief message with your name and contact information, and we will get in touch shortly.