WillsEvery individual who dies in Florida is deemed to have an estate plan. If you do not have an estate plan prepared at the time of your death, your estate plan will be chosen by the State of Florida. The Florida Intestacy Statute applies to estates of individuals who die without a will and provides the manner in which property passes, the manner for determining heirs and their share, as well as many other highly personal matters.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney, you can carefully craft a thorough and detailed estate plan. A well-prepared estate plan will allow you to control your property while you are alive and able-bodied, to take care of yourself and your loved ones if you become disabled, and to give what you have to whom you want, the way you want and when you want, while saving every tax dollar, professional fee and court cost possible.
Simple WillsA will is not effective until you pass away. However, a valid will facilitates matters that may arise after your death. A will only governs how assets that are subject to probate administration are distributed. A simple will provides a mechanism for determining heirs, distributing property, creating trusts where appropriate, and nominating guardians, trustees and personal representatives. There are technical requirements that must be met in order for a will to be valid in Florida. Therefore, it is important that your will be prepared by an attorney familiar with the requirements for wills in Florida.
A will that has been prepared in a state other than Florida might be valid for probate in Florida. However, there could be provisions in the out-of-state will that would be ineffective. Often the affidavit in out-of-state wills does not conform to the self-proving affidavit requirements provided for in Florida law. If you have a will that was not prepared pursuant to Florida law, it would be wise to have your will reviewed by a Florida estate planning attorney to determine the validity of your will and the validity of each of the provisions of the will in accordance with Florida law. It is important to note that even persons with relatively small estates can have complex estate planning issues. When choosing an attorney to prepare your estate plan, it is beneficial to choose an attorney who limits his or her practice to wills, trusts and estates.
Complex WillsThere are various factors that create a need for a more complex will. Among those are the nature of the family structure, the size and type of assets involved, the need to create various trusts, as well as estate tax planning where necessary. A significant number of issues arise if your estate exceeds $5,000,000 in value after consideration of all assets including homes, investment assets, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, business interests and other assets.
When planning for a large estate, it may be wise to include provisions for testamentary trusts to provide for minor children, a spouse, elderly parents, or to plan for the minimization of the federal estate tax impact. In this situation, your will should be prepared with the assistance of an attorney familiar with the federal estate tax and experienced in advising clients in ways to limit your exposure to federal estate taxes.
Not all Wills are created equalOnline legal document services offer an enticing bargain. Most people realize that they need an estate plan to manage their affairs if something happens to them, but estate planning attorneys can be expensive. Many consumers are now questioning whether it is possible to bypass the attorney fees and use a low-cost website to prepare estate planning documents. The short answer is that, yes, it is possible – but it is not advisable. You could save money now but end up creating an expensive and frustrating mess for your family.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize what they are getting themselves into with an online document service. Online legal document preparation companies have spent millions of dollars trying to create the impression that their services are similar to those of an attorney. They put lawyers in their commercials, hire celebrities to promote their services, and even tout stories of people who have successfully used their documents. Unfortunately, all the marketing in the world can’t change the fact that these Internet companies are not law firms. They aren’t lawyers. They can’t give legal advice. Instead, they are “document assistants” – this is a term that states use to define service providers who type your information into generic form documents. These document assistants enter your information into the form you chose, regardless of whether it makes sense or is a good idea. Only a highly trained estate planning attorney can help you navigate through the complex issues that often arise in estate planning. Your estate plan is the box that carries your entire life savings. Consider whether saving money in the short term is worth the risk of damaging your life’s work. Your better legacy depends upon the accuracy and completeness of your plan. If you would like more information, please contact Medina Law Group to talk to a Florida Bar board certified specialist who has the expertise to help you plan your estate.