Many people try to avoid thinking about what will happen to their bank accounts and belongings after they pass away. As a result they have no estate planning in place. often people do not want to deal with these matters because of the misconceptions they have regarding wills, trusts and the perils of probate.
Regardless of the size of your estate, if you fail to create the proper documents to transfer your assets to the people you choose, the Florida statutes will dictate how your estate is distributed. Often, this will not be in line with your wishes and can create unnecessary headaches for your heirs. If you have a blended family with children from different marriages or minors that you want to provide for so that they do not automatically receive an inheritance at a mere 18 years of age, estate planning is especially crucial. Additionally, families with a special needs child or beneficiary must be particularly careful with estate planning so that valuable public benefits their disabled beneficiary relies so heavily on will not be lost.
Simple estate planning can prevent families from having to utilize the court’s probate process and can ensure that assets are easily transferred to their intended beneficiaries without having to involve the court.
Too often, individuals are afraid of the expense of paying an attorney to create estate plans and will attempt to use a “do it yourself” kit or online program. Sadly, these documents frequently lack the appropriate language needed to make the proper bequests and more often than not, are not signed in conformity with Florida law. That leads to invalid documents and leaves the Florida statutes to dictate the beneficiaries.
Durable Powers of Attorney are another vital aspect of a proper estate plan. Powers of Attorney provide the ability to choose who will make legal and financial decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions yourself. They also avoid the necessity of a guardianship or conservatorship that can be expensive and time consuming. The same goes for Health Care Advance Directives. These documents allow a surrogate of your choosing to step in to make medical decisions of your behalf without requiring the involvement of a court.
Estate planning can be much less costly than you might think and well worth the time and expense to make sure that it is handled in accordance with your goals and wishes. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for your family’s estate planning consultation.
By Attorney Sarah Schelling Peet