Do you want to spare your family stress and expenses in the wake of your death? Then planning your trust is a must! Many people are reluctant to look at estate planning because it forces them to face their mortality. Estate planning covers more than just what happens after you die.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of making plans to distribute your estate after death. It can also involve making a plan to execute your wishes should you become medically incapacitated, assigning guardianship of your minor children, and assigning someone that you trust to be your power of attorney.
Different Types of Estate Planning
Estate planning can be made up of a few components. The experienced attorneys at Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A. can advise how estate planning most benefits you.
Wills and Trusts
The foundation of estate planning is wills or trusts.
A will and trust attorney ensures that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes. A will must still go through probate, which can take anywhere from nine months to two years, with expensive legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. Probate files are open to the public, and excluded heirs can come forward to seek a share of the estate. To avoid these circumstances, people often use trusts instead of or in combination with a will.
A living trust is beneficial because it can help your survivors avoid probate when you die, prevent the courts from controlling your assets if you become incapacitated, and bring all of your assets together in one plan. A trust is valid in every state and can be changed at any time, should your situation or your desires change. It is not open to the public, and excluded heirs are not included in the process.
Your assets are managed by a trustee who is assigned by you. They can (if needed) continue after your death to provide for your loved one with special needs or to protect assets from less responsible family members and beneficiaries’ creditors.
Durable Power of Attorney (PoA)
Your power of attorney is a person or agent who will act on your behalf of your estate plan if you are unable to do so yourself. Without one, the courts may decide what happens to your assets should you become mentally incompetent. This gives the power to transact real estate, enter into financial transactions, and make important legal decisions to the agent of your choosing.
A number of your possessions can pass along to your heirs without being named in the will, including 401k plan assets and insurance plans. Naming a beneficiary and contingent beneficiary will keep those accounts out of probate and in the hands of the person of your choosing.
If you become medically incapacitated, a healthcare PoA is a person who will make medical decisions on your behalf. This should not only be a person that you trust but also someone with whom you share similar values and who will make the choices you would want to be made in the event you are unable to do so.
If you have minor children or plan to have them, it is important to assign a guardian for them. Consider choosing someone with whom you share values and who is financially sound and willing to raise your children.
Why You Should Hire Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A.
The law firm of Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A. has been devoted to helping clients in the area of estate planning for over 35 years. We are a family firm that will treat your family like our own.
When someone dies in Florida without a will or any form of estate planning, Florida Statutes dictate what happens next. That is called dying “intestate” or “intestate succession,” and the probate estate is referred to as an “intestate estate.”
To break it down, if you are married, your spouse gets everything. If you are married, and you have children with your spouse, your spouse gets everything. If you are married and have children from a previous relationship, your current spouse gets half, and the remaining half is equally distributed among your children from the previous relationship(s).
That only applies to legal marriages and “common law” partners.
It’s easy to see how estate planning can be problematic and messy for those with blended families. To make sure that your loved ones are included in your inheritances, estate planning with an experienced attorney is imperative.
The lawyers at Growney, McKeown & Barber, will help you with estate planning regardless of your marital status, relationships with your children or extended family, and other circumstances.
By neglecting estate planning, you are allowing your assets to pass to those whom you do not wish to have them. Protect yourself and your survivors by preparing an estate plan now. Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A. can help Clearwater-area residents who are ready to take control of their affairs and develop a plan for the end of their life. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at (727) 384-3800. You can also contact us online.