Estate planning is useful for everyone, no matter your age or financial situation. By creating a comprehensive estate plan, you make your wishes legally valid for your surviving families and other heirs.
One of our wills, trusts & probate attorneys in Melbourne can assist and advise you as you go through the process of making these critical decisions.
Who Needs an Estate Plan?
Although some specific situations exist that make it more critical to have an estate plan in place, everyone can benefit from engaging in the estate planning process in some way. You might wish to consider making an estate plan if you are in any of the following situations:
- You recently became an adult, married, divorced, had a child, adopted a child, or experienced a similar life change.
- You have been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness.
- Your parents or your spouse may need care and support in the near future, and you are unsure how you will pay for it.
How an Attorney from Our Law Firm Can Help with Your Estate Plan
A wills, trusts & probate attorney in Melbourne from our law firm can help you create the estate plan that is right for you and tailored to your individual needs. In drafting your estate plan, our law firm will:
- Listen to and get a clear understanding of your estate plan goals and needs
- Help you decide what estate planning tools are best for your situation
- Draft legal documents that address your property, like wills and trusts
- Discuss your healthcare wishes and incorporate them into the necessary legal documents so that those wishes are clear to your family
- Address the guardianship of minor children or incapacitated adults
- Assist you in choosing an executor to handle your estate
- Help you designate beneficiaries for non-probate assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies
What Issues Can I Address in My Estate Plan?
Everyone has different needs in terms of an estate plan, but there are some common issues that you may wish to address as you create your individualized estate plan. Through the estate planning process, you can determine how to handle your property following death and who you want to receive and manage that property.
You also can make healthcare provisions in advance in case you are unable to make those decisions at some point in the future, whether due to illness, injury, or incapacity. We can assist you by:
Making a Will
A will is a legal document that sets forth statements about how you wish your surviving family members or other heirs to handle your financial and personal affairs following your death. You can choose an executor (or a person to handle your estate). You also can decide who you want to inherit any property that you own at the time of your death.
You also can use a will to choose a guardian for your minor children. A will can designate a person to handle your property for the benefit of your children if you were to pass away.
Choosing a Trust
A trust is an estate planning tool that can help avoid the probate process, which is often necessary after someone who owns property passes away, even if you have a will in place.
Making Healthcare Decisions
A common way to ensure that doctors and other medical providers follow your healthcare decisions is to designate another person to make those decisions for you, if necessary. Powers of attorney are legal documents that allow you to give someone else the power to make decisions for you, if you later become unable to make those decisions.
A power of attorney can address the general power of someone to make medical decisions or financial decisions for you or can address only specific tasks.
Another common legal document concerning healthcare decisions is a living will. In this document, you can make important decisions about what kind of end-of-life care you want. For example, you can decide whether you want to have a “do not resuscitate” order in place if something should happen to you.
Understanding the Probate Court Process
When your loved one passes away, you likely must deal with property and other issues that commonly arise after the death of a family member. If your loved one left a will, or sometimes even if they didn’t have a will, you may need to open an estate or start legal proceedings in probate court to pay debts and distribute property belonging to the deceased person.
The probate process often can last six to nine months, depending on the complexity of the estate. The probate process has several different steps. First, any interested person may file a petition to probate the will in court under Florida Statutes § 733.202. Along with this petition, you must notify anyone listed in the will and any other legal heirs that an estate has been opened.
The Role of a Personal Representative
The court then issues Letters of Administration, which designates a personal representative, or a person who carries out the tasks that are part of administering an estate.
The personal representative of the estate will give notice to all known creditors of the estate under Florida Statutes § 733.2121, as well as inventory all property that belongs to the estate.
Three months after creditors have been notified, the personal representative will begin performing the tasks necessary to close the estate. These tasks include paying any valid claims filed by creditors, liquidating property, and distributing estate assets to the heirs.
Learn How the Estate Planning and Probate Process Works Today
Dealing with financial and legal matters following the death of a loved one is never easy, but our wills, trusts & probate attorneys in Melbourne can answer your questions and assist you in handling these issues.
We also can review your individual situation and give you recommendations about estate planning. Contact our offices today at Bogin, Munns & Munns by calling (321) 254-3939 and learn more about how we can help you and your family.