For the next 19 years, 10,000 baby boomers will reach the age of 65 each day. These hard working Americans typically have more than 1 child and have accumulated quite the “nest egg” of assets. Our estate planning law firm knows that no two estates are the same which is why we are here to provide solutions that work the way you want, preparing for situations that will or could arise in the future. With your legacy in mind, we protect your loved one’s inheritances!
Every single person has an estate whether they know it or not. It can range from cars to bank accounts to properties to life insurance and everything in between. Estate planning is needed for not only every family but every individual.
It is in your best interest that when (not if) you pass away you were the one who decided how your estate was divided. You will want to determine who gets what and when that person gets it. Additionally, you will want to ensure that you are paying the least amount of taxes, legal fees, and court costs. This takes estate planning!
Estate Planning Definition
Estate Planning is the preparation for the distribution and management of a person’s estate at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance policies, and other arrangements, primarily to reduce administration costs and transfer tax liability. Additionally, under the umbrella of estate planning, falls healthcare & non-healthcare related decisions directed by powers of attorney, living wills, and healthcare surrogate documents.
What is an Estate?
An estate is the interest an individual possesses in lands or in any other subject of property. Most objects of value a person own are part of their estate, including vehicles, houses, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.
Too many people fail to plan
A common fallacy in life is that everyone will live comfortably to old age. For a fortunate proportion of society, longevity may be possible, but this is not true for everyone. People do not like to think about death. We often believe we have plenty of time ahead of us, and that we are not yet old enough to seriously consider end-of-life planning. However, life can be unpredictable. When it comes to the things that are important, it is never too early to seek the comfort of knowing there is a plan of action in case things do not go as expected.
“You can’t plan for your death after you die!”
If you don’t have a plan, your state does
If an individual were to die unexpectedly, their worldly belongings and minor children would distribute per the laws of the state of residence for the decedent. When death occurs intestate (meaning without a valid will) in the state of Florida the entire estate is awarded to the surviving spouse assuming no other children from a previous marriage are involved. If there are surviving descendants of a different marriage, then the descendants split half of the estate equally, while the spouse solely receives the other half. If there is no surviving spouse, then the descendants receive the entire estate divided equally among them. If there is no surviving spouse and no descendants, then the endowment is awarded to surviving parents. In the absence of a surviving spouse, descendants, and parents the estate will be distributed among relatives. In the event there are no surviving heirs to claim the estate, it transfers to the State of Florida. These laws are guided by Florida Statute Section 732.
The above referenced projected series of outcomes can lead to costly legal expenses and can drain the estate of its money. To ensure your loved ones receive the specific equity you entrusted to them and that your wishes are fulfilled sufficient to your liking, it is in your best interest to plan proactively. Do not allow your life’s work and legacy to be at the disposal of the state!
Estate planning will help you organize your life
People often discuss their wishes with loved ones regarding what they would like to happen after they die. Without valid physical documentation, sometimes a loved one’s wishes are not completed as intended. Estate planning will allow you to ensure that these intentions are fulfilled and are accessible. Without structure, it is difficult for loved ones to locate financial records, insurance policies, and titles. Completing your estate plan with a professional will provide the peace of mind you and your loved ones deserve. This forward thinking will allow errors to be recognized and corrected before it is too late.
Estate planning is not a do-it-yourself job!
When it comes to cherished possession and loved ones, mistakes are unacceptable. To ensure your wishes are followed precisely, it is best to employ the help of legal professionals. You need someone to carefully monitor your estate plan to warn you of any possible conflicts that may occur, and then correct them. An estate plan is not a one-shot deal. It needs to be regularly updated, especially when life changes occur. That is why it is important to retain an attorney familiar with your plan who has your best interests in mind. The most compelling reason to hire an attorney to handle your estate plan is to make sure everything is filed correctly so that all funds and property are transferred successfully to whom you intended it.
How to start your estate plan
If you’re reading this, you have already begun! Begin by listing your assets out and who you want to get them. If you have minor children, you should consider primary guardians and secondary guardians. Additionally, you will want to choose backups for personal representatives, trustees, health care surrogates, and powers of attorneys. Having substitutes and alternatives is smart to do just in case someone you designate cannot or will not serve under their appropriate role. You should consider meeting with a professional who can advise you on what products are best for you such as a will or trust.
The best time to plan your estate is now
Death is sometimes hard for people to talk about and plan for but that doesn’t mean we should avoid doing so. Imagine leaving your loved ones behind, struggling with the logistics of your estate or lack thereof and spending your hard earned money on the probate process. Remember, you are actually the only one who doesn’t have to do anything because you are either incapacitated or dead. Your family would be in grieving the process, any would have to make decisions without your input. Empower yourself & protect your family while you still can!
The best method of avoiding an unpleasant outcome is to have something on record now in case tragedy strikes. It can always be changed later after extensive deliberation but the most important part is being prepared for death, not if it happens, but when it happens! Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose the when so get the peace of mind you deserve and take the correct steps to protect your legacy.
To have everything organized and accessible when the time comes is the ideal peace of mind anyone could ask for. God forbid a tragic sickness comes your way, but we all know that it is a possibility. You do not want to be doing your estate plan during that time! Also, keep in mind that your loved ones will truly admire the care and ease you bestowed onto them in their time of need. The act of discipline, organization, careful planning and love for them will never be forgotten.
It does not have to be expensive
If finances are an issue, start off small and develop gradually as your situation changes. Start by simply drafting a will and selecting powers of attorney for assets and health care decisions. Then, over time and as your financial situation improves, you can grow your “quiver” of protections with your attorney by updating your estate plan.
The most important benefits of estate planning
In the end, the goal of all this forethought is to maximize your loved one’s inheritances, minimize your taxes, and streamline the process. We have all heard the quote, “the only thing I’m certain of is uncertainty itself”. This applies to many situations but doesn’t have to when it comes to your estate. “You can’t plan for your death after you die” so make certain that you have a say in the process before it’s too late!
To get a FREE consultation and discuss estate planning matter that are important to you and your family, or to have an estate plan reviewed, please call us at (407) 636-4066, email us at email@example.com, or fill out our contact form HERE.