Planning your estate after you pass away or become incapacitated in a way that protects your legacy for future generations is the best gift you can give your family. Our Florida estate planning attorneys know that the best way to help our clients is to understand your Florida estate planning needs and help you build that plan. If you’re interested in learning more about our estate planning services and our unique Family Estate and Legacy Program, please book your free 15-minute phone call with us today!
Many legal strategies and estate planning documents are involved in Jacksonville estate planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. New clients often say that they do not have an estate plan. Most people are surprised to learn that they do have a plan.
In the absence of legal planning otherwise, your estate will be distributed after death according to Florida’s laws of intestacy. Of course, this may not be the plan you would have chosen. A properly drafted estate plan established with an estate planning lawyer will replace the terms of the state’s estate plan with your own.
Your last will and testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.
A will has no legal authority until after death. So, a will does not help manage your affairs when incapacitated, whether by illness or injury. This legal document does not help an estate avoid probate. A will is a legal document submitted to the probate court in Florida. A will is an excellent place to nominate your minor children’s guardians (or backup parents) if they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should document your choice of guardians. If you leave this to chance, you could be setting up a family battle royal, and your children could end up with the wrong guardians. Our Florida estate planning lawyers can help you or a loved one establish a last will and testament or other legal documents to protect your legacy.
Trusts come in many “flavors”; they can be simple or complex and serve various legal, personal, investment, or tax planning purposes. An experienced Florida trust attorney can help you and your family determine which type of trust fits your unique needs.
At the most basic level, a trust is a legal entity with at least three parties involved: the trust-maker (also called the grantor – the person who creates the trust), the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary.
There are many advantages to establishing a trust, including avoiding probate court. In most cases, an estate attorney in Jacksonville, FL, can help establish a trust that will own your assets and pass the assets to the trust beneficiaries (or heirs) immediately upon the trust maker’s death (s) with no probate required. Certain trusts also may result in estate tax advantages both for the trust-maker and the beneficiary. Trusts can protect property from creditors or simply provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the trust-maker(s) and the named beneficiaries. If well-drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated.
A power of attorney is another legal document used in Florida estate planning that gives another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right (powers) to do certain things for you. What those powers represent depends on the terms of the document.
A power of attorney may be very broad or very limited and specific. All powers of attorney terminate upon the maker’s death and may terminate when the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions). When the intent is to designate a backup decision-maker in the event of incapacity, then a durable power of attorney should be used. Durable powers of attorney in Florida should be frequently updated because banks and other financial institutions may hesitate to honor a power of attorney more than a year old.
Florida advance healthcare directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care. The documents legally establish who makes decisions for you should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions. Anyone over the age of 18 may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in Florida. Your advance directive can specify who will make and communicate decisions for you, and it can set out the circumstances under which you would not like your life to be prolonged if, for example, you were in a coma with no reasonable chance of recovery.
A legal document that goes hand-in-hand with your advance directive is an authorization to your medical providers to allow specified individuals to access your medical information. Without this authorization, your doctor may refuse to communicate with your hand-picked decision-maker.
Our estate planning law group is here to help you and your loved ones understand estate planning, elder law, post-death administration, and business planning in Duval County, Florida. If you’re interested in learning more about our legal services from our experienced Jacksonville, Florida estate planning attorneys, please don’t hesitate to contact our law firm by Booking a Call today.
Our estate planning legal services include:
If you are committed to solving your planning needs and want to work with our skilled and experienced team, the first step to get started is booking your 15 minute phone call.
During the call, we will find out what your planning needs are so we can see if we can help you. We will also figure out if we would be a good fit for each other.
At the end of the call, we will set up a time to meet with the team and create a plan that will protect your family and preserve your legacy.