Dedicated Florida Estate Planning Law Firm
Wealth Management Lawyers Helping Families Protect Their Assets
If you’re like most Americans, you don’t have a comprehensive estate plan in place. That’s a mistake, though, and one you shouldn’t put off until it’s too late.
Estate planning is an area of law that addresses your assets, financial interests, and domestic affairs — both how you can protect them while you’re alive and how they’ll be handled after you pass away.
People put off planning their estate for all sorts of reasons. There is a persistent myth out there that only “rich old people” need estate plans in place. Others believe that wills are only for families with young children and substantial estates. Some people are simply uncomfortable with the whole topic of death and would rather roll the dice. Here are four common myths about estate planning:
- Myth #1: Only rich people need it. We all have assets. Even if your estate is modest in size, you have a vested interest in protecting the property that you do own. Sentiment matters too. As a matter of fact, many of the most contentious legal battles are over relatively inexpensive items that hold tremendous sentimental value — items that no one thought to protect in an estate plan.
- Myth #2: Only parents need a will. Whether you have kids or not, you are going to face a whole series of important legal decisions in your life. Estate plans include important documents that dictate who will make those decisions if you can’t, and how they should decide, for example, what kind of life-saving medical treatment you might receive someday.
- Myth #3: The default inheritance rules provide enough protection. Inheritance laws are complicated. Assets often pass in ways that the deceased person never anticipated, and family members are passed over and hurt in the process. Moreover, without a trust in place, your estate will be subject to a public probate proceeding, which can prove both costly and embarrassing for your survivors.
- Myth #4: It is too expensive. Our lawyers offer a wide range of services, strategies, and solutions to fit your family’s budget.
Why You Need a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
Of course, none of us can predict the future. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Should tragedy strike — an incapacitating injury, a devastating diagnosis, the unexpected loss of a spouse, or even sudden death — how much protection have you provided for your loved ones?
We’ll all pass away someday, and when we do, the state will pass an enormous burden on to the people we leave behind. They’ll have decisions to make, property to divide, and expenses to pay. The less planning you’ve done in advance, the bigger their burden will be. And without a comprehensive plan, there’s a good chance that your affairs won’t be handled in the way you’d have wanted. Don’t make these common estate planning mistakes:
- Naming the beneficiaries of your insurance policies, IRAs, 401ks, annuities, etc. as “the estate of so-and-so.” These three simple words, “The estate of,” can spell a lot of trouble, because they put the assets contained in those accounts right back into probate where it can take weeks, months or even years to distribute them to their intended beneficiaries.
- Failing to have your last will and testament properly witnessed and executed. This can result in delays and, in some cases, outright invalidation of your will.
- Failure to fund a living trust. A living trust can take your assets out of probate so that they can pass seamlessly to your intended beneficiaries when you die. They don’t help you, however, if you neglect to fund them by re-titling the assets you wish to place in the trust.
- Jointly titling assets in your children’s names. This can get you into a lot of trouble if your children run into financial problems: divorce, debt defaults, etc.
- Failing to seek legal advice when you are planning your estate. This is the biggest mistake of all because it is the mistake that leads to all the other ones.
That’s why estate planning in Jacksonville is so important. It’s the only effective way to provide protection in the face of an uncertain future. And it’s much easier to achieve than most people believe. Our Jacksonville estate planning lawyers are here to help you in 101 different ways (this is a conservative estimate). Some of these ways include:
- Helping you navigate state-specific rules that apply to your estate. What works in New York might not work in Florida, and vice versa.
- Helping you strategically plan your estate. Every piece of your estate planning puzzle affects every other piece.
- Getting the details right. A misplaced word (or even a comma) in your last will and testament, for example, could result in unintended consequences that you could not have foreseen. It is our job to foresee such consequences.
- Avoiding estate litigation by closing loopholes and clarifying ambiguities in advance.
Doing our job right means no one will ever even know about all of the disputes that would have erupted if your estate had not been meticulously planned.
What Does an Estate Plan Include?
The contents of your estate plan will be dictated by the specific circumstances of your family and estate, as well as your unique needs. In general, though, a comprehensive 21st-century estate plan should include the following at a minimum:
- Last Will and Testament
- A revocable trust (i.e. living trust)
- Power of Attorney
- Medical directives
- Appointment of health care surrogates
In today’s digital world, protection for your online accounts and other virtual assets is becoming increasingly important as well. Our Florida estate planning attorneys can help you incorporate digital estate planning into whatever approach you ultimately choose.
Our wealth management attorneys also available to assist with any legal concerns relating to old age or the loss of a loved one. Available services include:
- Asset protection
- Tax strategies
- Probate litigation
- Caveats (challenges to wills)
- Updates and modifications to an estate plan
- Guardianship and custody issues
- Changes to estate plans after divorce and other changes in the family
- Family counseling relating to estate planning
- Much more
Talk with Our Experienced Wealth Management Attorneys
Peace of mind means everything, and it can be yours with just a little planning. Let us do the heavy lifting. Our attorneys will give you the accurate and effective advice you can count on.
You only have one life — make the most of it. Protect what you’ve earned for your family’s sake.
Call our experienced attorneys today.