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.
The “Legacy Estate Program” is our unique process that walks you along the seven stages of the estate planning journey.
Stage 1 is the Client Organizer which starts the process. It allows you to organize your thoughts and important information and share them with us before the initial consultation. This gives us an initial insight into your unique situation.
The next stage is to learn about your Goals & Concerns. This is our focus at the start of the initial consultation. We want to know what is motivating you to start the estate planning process and understand the problems you want to solve.
We require a $250 initial consultation fee which will demonstrate your seriousness of purpose about the planning process and our time together. This fee will be applied toward an eligible estate plan you choose to move forward with our planning recommendations at the end of the consultation. You will be asked at the end of the consultation to decide whether you want to move forward. Once making a commitment, you will sign our Terms of Service Agreement and pay one-half of the agreed fee in advance. We will also schedule a Signing Ceremony which typically is set 5-6 weeks out.
Stage 3 is called Positions of Responsibility. We reach this stage if you choose to retain our services. Here, we help you decide who to appoint to important positions of responsibility to help you manage your affairs while you are alive and after your death. Appointing trusted people to important decision-making roles is an often neglected but vital element of any good estate plan.
Next, we turn to the Legal Drafting. By this stage, we have all the information we need to start preparing the important legal documents that comprise your estate plan. During the drafting stage, we make sure you understand the main elements of your estate plan. After you have an opportunity to ask questions and request changes, we turn our attention to the all-important Signing Ceremony.
While we are drafting the legal documents, we seek to involve your Financial Team. Whether it is your financial advisor, CPA or other financial professional, we encourage you to get your financial team involved in the planning process if you are comfortable doing so. We believe clients are best served by a team approach where multiple people bring different viewpoints and skill sets. If you are not working with a financial advisor, we can refer one.
Then we come to Asset Alignment. This is a critical stage for an effective and workable estate plan, especially a trust. Think of it as the second phase after the legal documents are signed. Although your trust is legally in effect, the assets still need to be properly aligned with your trust.
Whether it is best to retitle an asset into your trust or keep an asset outside of your trust but use a beneficiary designation to have the asset payable to your trust, our Asset Alignment Coordinator will guide you on the best approach for each asset. This is another way that our unique “Legacy Estate Program” goes above and beyond and gives you confidence knowing your estate plan will be complete and buttoned up.
Finally, we get to Stage 7 called the Client Care Program. This is a unique program intended for clients who want to stay in relationship with us so their estate plan can adapt as life circumstances change. Your estate plan needs to work at that unknown time in the future when you die or become incapacitated. Between now and then, things may change such as your family situation, the law, and even your assets that need to be continuously aligned with your trust.
Having an estate plan that can account for these unknowns can be challenging. The solution is for us to stay close so your plan can change if it needs to. The Client Care Program is our platform for that solution. You can learn more about the Client Care Program at https://www.legacyplanninglawgroup.com/client-care-program/
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:
The following resources are provided by Genworth and MorningStar
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.