It can be difficult to think about end-of-life planning. However, protecting your assets with a will or trust ensures your wishes are followed after your death. It also makes the distribution of your property easier and less stressful for your loved ones.
A Gainesville wills, trusts, and probate lawyer at Bogin, Munns & Munns can help you devise an estate plan or dissolve your loved one’s estate. In addition, if your family member’s property is in probate, we can guide you through the process.
Who Needs an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is for everyone, not just the wealthy. Additionally, there is no wrong time to make an estate plan. However, life events may put the need at the forefront of your mind. You may want to contact an attorney about creating a will or trust if:
- You are recently married
- You have children
- You or a loved one receives a terminal diagnosis
- You or your loved one are approaching a time when you may no longer be able to make financial and medical decisions on your own
- You have concerns about affording care for yourself of your loved one in the future
To consult with an experienced wills, trusts & probate lawyer serving Gainesville, call 855-780-9986
Wills Plan for the Distribution of Your Assets
If you pass without a will, a court determines the distribution of your property according to Florida law. A will allows you to leave specific assets to beneficiaries of your choice. Assets designated in a will may include:
- Money in checking and savings accounts
- Money market accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Royalties, patents, or copyrights
- Real estate
- Personal possessions
Your will does not include other assets, such as insurance and retirement accounts, for which you have already designated a beneficiary. For example, you may have life insurance benefits that pass to your spouse or minor children. Also excluded from your will are any assets you place in a trust.
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A Will Outlines Your Final Wishes
A will does more than handle your property. A will also lets your loved ones know your wishes about important decisions they need to make after your death or in the event you become incapacitated. Your will:
- Names an executor – This person will see to the dissolution of your property. Your executor should be a person you trust who is over age 18 and of sound mind.
- Names guardianship – If you have minor children, one of your biggest concerns is who will care for them after your death. Your will names a legal guardian for your child or children if there are no surviving parents.
- Names a power of attorney – You may need to name several powers of attorney (POA) in your will. A health care POA has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. A financial POA can make decisions regarding your finances. You may appoint a durable POA to oversee your affairs if you are mentally or physically incapacitated.
- Creates a health care directive – Also known as a living will, this legal document outlines medical treatments you do or do not want used to keep you alive. According to Mayo Clinic, a living will may include your wishes regarding tube feeding, the use of a mechanical ventilator, your preferences for organ and tissue donation, and more. While these issues may not be pleasant to consider, thinking about them now could save your loved ones a lot of anguish when making difficult choices.
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A Trust Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transfer of Your Property
You can create a trust to protect your wealth further and ensure it goes into the hands of your chosen beneficiaries. A trust can also help your estate avoid probate and certain taxes.
You may set up a revocable living trust while alive. This places assets into a trust that you can revoke or change during your lifetime. Upon your death, assets in the trust pass directly and immediately to your beneficiaries without going through probate court. If you have minor children, you will need to name a trustee who will hold and administer the trust until they come of age.
Unlike wills, trusts do not deal with any after-death wishes outside of your assets and property. Another key difference is that trusts become effective immediately upon signing, whereas your will does not go into effect until your death or incapacitation. Therefore, you should view wills and trusts as two separate but necessary and related documents.
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What Happens If Your Estate Goes Into Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased party’s assets. The court will distribute property according to state law and make sure the estate pays the deceased’s debts and taxes.
If your loved one’s estate is in probate, our lawyers can help. Our attorneys can file your case in probate court and assist with:
- Obtaining and distributing life insurance proceeds
- Collecting and securing the deceased’s assets
- Obtaining property appraisals
- Paying debts and taxes
Let Our Gainesville Attorneys Help You Plan Your Estate
You work hard for the things you have, and you want to make sure what you earn in life passes quickly and easily to your loved ones when the time comes. You also want to make sure that your family understands your final wishes regarding your health care.
We understand these are hard questions. Our goal is to provide answers and compassionate legal advice. Our Gainesville wills, trusts, and probate lawyers can:
- Draft your will
- Help you select an executor
- Draft your power of attorney
- Establish guardianship for your minor children
- Place your assets in a trust
- Help you name trustees
- Draft your health care directive (living will)
- Make sure your will and trusts are legally binding
Contact Bogin, Munns & Munns
For more than 40 years, Bogin, Munns & Munns has served the legal needs of clients across Florida. Our award-winning firm includes more than 30 lawyers practicing estate, family, commercial, and personal injury law. For help with your estate planning needs, reach out to our Gainesville office today at (352) 332-7688.
Call or text 855-780-9986 or submit our Consultation Request form today