A Good Estate Plan Is Necessary

Nothing is sure in life except death and taxes. While this saying is frequently overused, it’s still a fact of life. As humans, our mortality rate is 100 percent. Sadly, many people fail to prepare for this inevitable situation. Thus, their lack of preparation leaves those behind to deal with many financial issues upon their death.

In the United States alone, if you don’t have a will or financial estate documentation, a stranger is going to have to deal with all of these issues. The stranger is going to be the one that has to determine who gets what, who has to pay for what and any other necessities all because of lack of preparation. They will have to follow the due process of the law and those who you wish to leave something may be left out because it wasn’t written down in a will form.

family at homeHowever, there is another way to do this. If you take the time to write out your decisions and your wishes in a legally prepared form you can ensure that those you wish to receive things will receive them. You can save countless hours of probate court and estate dealings for your family members. You can prevent your hard earned money from being siphoned out and into the court systems. It’s ironic that many who have worked so hard in life for everything that they have, would leave this one last thread undone.

Estate Preparation Basics

With laws being very complex, and estate planning left undone, there isn’t any other choice but to put something like this through court and place it into a strangers hands. Tax laws frequently get updated and change. An estate attorney will have to take the time to check on all of these laws and make sure that all of the documentation is properly prepared for his or her clients. Professional wealth managers and financial planners may also have to be involved in this step. Moderate estates can benefit as well from such advice that these professionals offer.

The larger the estate, the more important this step is. A good estate planner will need to be involved in order to preserve as much as possible.

If the estate will be handled through the execution of the will, there should be at minimum the following documents included:

Living Will: This will ensure that end of life wishes are carried out through medical treatment. It will tell medical personnel if someone does not wish to be resuscitated.

Advanced Medical Directives: This will appoint a person or persons to make medical decisions should you be unable to make such decisions.

Financial Power of Attorney: If you’re incapacitated this person can move your assets into trust funds and make financial decisions for you.

Should you select a trust based planning of your Last Will and Testament this will replace the Power Over Will. This will enable asset transfers into an estate trust fund. Often this is written and referred to as a Revocable Living Trust. Larger estates will need more documentation than will the smaller estates.

Estate planning attorneys will also provide their clients with a checklist to make sure that everything is done and that all the documentation is in order. Additionally, they may also assist in the preparation of these documents. At minimum they will require:

A List of liabilities and the assets, this will include;

  • insurance
  • Contact info for all of the family members
  • Ownership titles and contracts
  • Documents, agreements and any relevant contracts
  • Tax Records for the past three years
  • Location of account authorizations and passwords as well as locations of keys

Estate planning attorneys will assist in this process and help to plan an effective and efficient plan for their clients. The best way to protect your loved ones and make sure your belongings go to who you wish for them to go to is to take the time to create a good estate plan.

Wild Felice & Partners is a Ft. Lauderdale based law firm specializing in estate planning, asset protection and probate administration. Utilizing aspects of real estate law, estate planning strategies and asset structuring they protect their clients from potential litigation, creditors, and any other threats that may negatively impact an estate.

A Basic Overview Of Florida Probate

The following FAQs offer a basic overview of Florida probate procedures.

What is probate?

“Probate” denotes a formal court-supervision of the settlement of a deceased person’s financial affairs. Properly completed probate accomplishes equitable distribution and settlement of all assets owed and owned by the deceased when he or she died.

Two types of Florida probate

All estate administration legal provisions are set forth in Chapters 731 – 735 of the Florida Statutes. Addition procedural rules are contained within Parts I and II of Sections 5.0101 – 5.530 of the Florida Probate Rules.

- Formal administration

This is the most commonly employed estate settlement procedure. It is also the method mandated by law in most probate cases.

- Summary administration

Although relatively informal and accomplished without court intervention, applicable state probate laws authorize its use only under very limited circumstances.

Why is probate so important?

Formal probate is the best means of equitable estate dissolution. Greater objectivity and full protection of all concerned parties’ legal rights are assured. Such advantages are especially significant when when minor heirs or offspring are involved.

If the deceased prepared a valid will prior to death, it remains legally inactive until formally admitted to probate. Even when decedents leave no valid will, probate is essential to ensure proper transfer of assets and final resolution of other important personal matters.

How is probate initiated?

Probate is legally deemed to commence with the filing of all required forms and documents. This is usually done at the office of Circuit Court Clerk in the county where the decedent most recently resided. Certified copies of the will (if any) and the appropriate filing fee must accompany this submission.

What parties are involved in probate?

In addition to prospective heirs, the Probate Clerk, Probate Judge, Personal Representative, a probate attorney, and any of the decedent’s creditor(s). In many instances, the Internal Revenue Service may also become involved. Each of these parties plays a distinct – but important role – in the entire estate settlement process.

Probate court officials are objective parties who serve administrative or adjudicative functions. The Personal Representative is either predesignated by the decedent or appointed by the court to carry out actual asset compilation and evaluation, and negotiation of any outstanding debt(s) of the decedent. Prospective heirs, the IRS, and any creditor(s) all have potential claims against estate assets.

The proper role of a Florida probate attorney depends upon the relative position(s) of the above party(ies) that he or she represents. Probate lawyers in all such legal representations must act to advance the specific interest(s) of their client(s).