I have been practicing law in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration for over twelve years. During this time, I have had the fortune of helping hundreds of clients plan for their families and loved ones futures. I have also helped many clients administer unnecessary probates and engage in litigation with family members due to poor planning or often, no planning at all. Almost always, these battles can be avoided with a little bit of effort and forethought. It is crushing to hear a client say, “I will never speak to my sister again”, knowing that any parent would be devastated to hear such words.
People often misconstrue the term “estate planning” and think it is something for the wealthy, or that it is only for the elderly. Estate planning is simply the process of planning for incapacity, and planning who will take care of your estate, and who will benefit from your estate, once you pass away. We all work too long and too hard to leave these decisions up to someone else, or worse, to Florida law. An estate plan may include the following documents depending upon a client’s needs:
- Advanced Directive for Healthcare (which includes a Living Will and Designation of Healthcare)
- Nomination of Preneed Guardian
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Last Will and Testament
- Revocable Living Trust and Pour-Over Will
- Marital Agreements
Each client and family situation is unique and our needs change throughout different seasons in life. The birth of a child should prompt new parents to have a Will prepared. At that time, the most important decision for my clients maybe naming a guardian for their minor child in the event of a tragedy. Additionally, ensuring that minor children receive their inheritance, (whether it includes life insurance proceeds, the family home, an employee benefit, or significant assets), thought must be given to the age or ages, it should be distributed to a child. Most people want to ensure that the funds are held for education, a first home, and savings.
Once the children are grown, clients may find that they have accumulated more assets and they want to update their documents. Often, they will also be facing the reality of aging parents and questions will surface regarding long-term care and capacity issues. Ultimately, it may be time to prepare a financial and estate plan for their own long-term care and passing. Additionally, divorce, new marriages, children with special needs, children with poor money management issues, and a multitude of other situations may prompt changes, questions, and a need for continued estate planning.
I strive to make the process seamless for my clients. We discuss your needs and goals, I prepare timely drafts for your review, and I charge a reasonable flat fee. Our staff is courteous, professional, and responsive. The firm will hold all original documents in our fireproof vault at no charge. Most often, our clients comment that they have been “putting it off” for one reason or another, but they feel relieved to have the documents once they are completed. We strive to make the process as easy as possible and to bring peace of mind to all of our clients.