Estate Planning FAQs

What is a Will?

A Will is a written directive of who gets your property at your death. With only a few exceptions, any sort of property can be transferred by Will.

What is a Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust is legal entity created during a persons lifetime and controls the management and disposition of a person’s assets during their lifetime and after their death. The main benefits of a Revocable Living Trust is that the grantor, the person who has created the trust, may be able to avoid guardianship if they become incapacitated. This is because the assets in the Trust can continue to be managed by a Trustee, for the benefit of the grantor. Secondly, the Living Trust will continue to manage the assets of the Trust after the death of the grantor in accordance with the terms of the Trust.

What is the difference between a Will and a Trust?

There are several differences between a Will and a Revocable Living Trust. A Will has to be accepted by a probate court in order to be followed. A Revocable Living Trust avoids probate. A Will only disposes of your property after your death. A Revocable Living Trust handles your property during your lifetime and after your death.

If I have a Trust, do I still need a Will?

Maybe. A Trust is not a substitution for a Will. In fact, it’s often used in conjunction with a Will. A Will catches assets that you may have forgotten to place in the Trust. In this instance, the language of your Will can be structured so that any assets you own on the date of your death that is not currently being managed by the Trust can be placed in the Trust and managed in accordance with the terms of the Trust. If there were no Will, that missed asset would be disposed of pursuant to Florida law.

What can I do now so that my loved ones avoid probate?

There are a myriad of estate planning vehicles available in Florida to avoid probate, such as Trusts, asset structuring, beneficiary designations on financial accounts. Each situation is different, and you should seek the advice of an attorney

Do I need a Will/how to know if I need a Will?

Each person’s situation is unique. You should consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help you determine the best estate plan for you and your family.

Does having a Will avoid probate?

Generally, no. If a person dies leaving no owner of property, the Will must be probated in order for ownership to be transferred in accordance with the person’s wishes in the Will. Probate is the court proceedings to allow that to happen.

What happens to my assets if I don’t have a Will/what happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will, Florida law will determine who will get your property. Your property will be distributed to your relatives in a very specific way. You property does not go the state unless you absolutely do not have any other living relatives.

Does a husband and wife have to have separate Wills?

Yes. Each individual must have their own Will. It is common for husbands and wives to have reciprocal Wills, meaning their Wills are identical.

Why do I need to have an estate plan?

An estate plan is necessary if you want to have some control over how your assets are managed during your lifetime and disposed of at your death. While Florida’s laws provide for the disposition of your assets if you do not make a plan, having an estate plan that provides for your loved ones in the manner you dictate.

What is probate?

Probate is a court proceeding used to transfer ownership of property owned by an individual on the date of their death.

Are there alternatives to having a Will?

Yes. It may be possible to structure ownership of assets and property in such a way that Will is not necessary. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney is able to help guide you in making this decision for yourself and your loved ones.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written document giving another person the authority to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so.

What is a Living Will?

A living Will is a written directive of your wishes regarding the use of medical procedures to prolong your life.

What is a healthcare surrogate?

A healthcare surrogate is a person whom you designate to make medical decisions for you. The surrogate can also be given the authority to receive your medical records, consent to invasive procedures, experimental procedures, and make just about any medical decision on your behalf that you would be able to do.

Why not use one of the low-cost online estate planning options?

  1. We all can relate to the satisfaction of accomplishing a home improvement or repair project ourselves. It is tempting to ‘google’ how to do almost anything, and we are fueled by the idea of saving money in the process. This kind of thinking may be fine for simple matters, and if you find you have bitten off more than you can chew, you can call in a professional. At the very most, you would likely have to spend a few extra dollars to have the job done right. Not so with estate planning. There are no do-overs after your death. Mistakes with drafting documents or structuring assets can be costly for your loved ones. Even the best online options cannot offer you the individualized expert advice of an experienced estate planning attorney. Each situation and family is different. There is no one size fits all in estate plans. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you to making the best decisions for your loved ones and can help ensure you’re your wishes are clearly stated and able to be carried out.