Top Legal Advice From Expert Estate Planning Lawyers in Florida
The Expert Estate Planning Lawyers at Ginsberg Shulman, PL, Offer Professional Estate Planning for Families and Individuals in the State of Florida.
Peace of Mind That’s Beyond Price
Often, estate planning is something that people only consider after a family member or close friend has died or been affected by an accident or serious illness. But when you’ve worked hard for your possessions, it makes sense to have a solid plan in place and to think about how you would like your assets distributed if anything unfortunate happens.
Get in touch with us for a consultation about your needs.
Estate Planning Services
How complex estate planning depends on your individual circumstances. It can be quite a simple process or much more involved if it requires the creation of a Trust or similar legal entity.
At Ginsberg and Shulman, our professional estate planning attorneys can advise on what is best for you and your family. Call us today to book an estate planning consultation so we can help you find the perfect solution.
Basic Estate Planning in Florida
Whatever your estate planning needs, there are certain documents that everyone should have in place to protect their interests:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate
Last Will and Testament
If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, neither the court nor your loved ones will be aware of your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets upon your death. The State of Florida will then distribute your assets according to the intestate laws in effect at the time. This means that your assets might not be distributed in the way you would want.
By drafting a Last Will and Testament, you stipulate how you would like your possessions transferred upon your death. A Last Will and Testament will still have to undergo the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Depending on your circumstances, it’s possible that a Trust may be a better alternative for you. This is something our experts can advise on during your consultation.
Durable Power of Attorney
If a situation arises during your life that prevents you from handling your own financial affairs, a Durable Power of Attorney makes it possible for you to name someone who can act on your behalf in these matters. For example, if you are in hospital and have monthly bills that need to be paid, the individual you designate as your Power of Attorney can do that for you until you are able to take control of your own affairs again.
A Durable Power of Attorney applies during your lifetime and then expires upon your death.
The decision whether to continue using life support is a very private and individual one. Some people don’t believe in Living Wills due to their religious convictions, while others would never want to be kept alive by machines. A Living Will informs your family and physicians of your wishes regarding the use of artificial life support systems should the need ever arise.
It’s never easy for family members to try and decide whether to keep a loved one alive or let them pass gently away. By writing a Living Will, you help to remove that burden from them by having already communicated your choices. The physician can then rely on this document instead of putting additional pressure on your already distressed family.
Health Care Surrogate
Many people believe that if they are married, their spouse is automatically allowed to make health-care decisions for them if they’re incapacitated. This is not true, so it’s important to establish a designated Health Care Surrogate to determine who you would want to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to do so.
Like a Durable Power of Attorney, this is a document that expires when you die.
Special Considerations in Estate Planning
Every family is unique and may have needs that vary from those of other households considerably. In today’s culture, there are all kinds of families: families with children; families without children; families with biological children; and families with adoptive children. There are also blended families, same-sex couples, and second-marriage couples.
For any family, it’s important to have a secure plan in place for the future. This may include:
- Guardianship for any children under 18
- Estate planning in second marriages
- Distinct needs
- Same-sex couples
Estate Planning and Guardianship for Children Under 18
There are lots of factors to take into account if you have children. Who would care for them if you were to pass away before they reach adulthood? This is a difficult question to answer and you should have discussions with your partner and the folks you are contemplating could take your children to ensure that everyone is aware of the duties involved. As well as this, you will want to carefully consider how the children’s assets would be managed in the event of your death.
A Trust is a more complex form of estate planning in which you create a legal entity to manage some or all of your assets. There are several different types of Trust that can help you to secure your possessions, avoid paying excessive taxes, and provide for your children.
There are also certain things you may want to think about before reaching any decisions. Do you want to establish a Trust to safeguard your children’s assets until they reach 18? Or would you prefer that they wait until they are older to receive any funds? Who would you like to manage your children’s finances until they reach adulthood? These are the types of questions our estate planning experts will discuss with you during an estate planning consultation.
Estate Planning for Second Marriages
Some couples may be in a second marriage as the result of a divorce or the death of their first spouse, which can again result in different estate planning considerations. Moreover, a second marriage often includes children who may not be the offspring of both parties. Then there’s the fact that the partners in a marriage may have substantial assets, or one partner may have more than the other.
In a second marriage, there can sometimes be a degree of conflict between the children and the new spouse, as well as worries regarding which children should receive which assets. We can help with special estate planning tools that ensure that the preferences of the parties are respected.
Estate Planning for the Distinct Needs of Family Members
Depending on the situation, one or more of your family members may have distinct or special needs. Do you have a child who receives disability benefits that could be lost if they were to inherit a substantial sum of money? Is one of your children in a volatile relationship and you’re concerned their significant other might receive assets in the event of a divorce? Do you have a child with money problems or who you fear would not make prudent financial decisions if left a considerable sum? These are just a few of the concerns that can be addressed by our estate planning team.
Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples
The United States has now permitted same-sex couples to marry and be recognized as spouses, granting them the same health insurance, tax benefits, and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. However, legislation changes so it still makes sense to use estate planning to ensure that any assets are distributed to the intended recipient.
Estate Planning for Those With Special Needs
If any special consideration scenarios apply to your family, Ginsberg and Shulman can help. We use our years of knowledge to ensure your wishes are respected and to protect your loved ones in the most effective manner.
Information You’ll Need to Get Started
It’s useful to have some information to hand when you have your introductory estate planning consultation. Then, when you’re ready to move forward with estate planning, your legal advisor can tell you if anything else is required.
These are some of the details and information you’ll want to gather:
- A list of assets
- Details of any liabilities
- Personal information for yourself and related parties
- Information about any special bequests
- Details of your elected representatives
List of Assets
Consider all of your assets: property, land, vehicles, savings and bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, antiques, art, wine collection, jewelry, precious metals, gemstones, and similar assets.
Details of Any Liabilities
Consider all of your debts, including mortgages, vehicle loans, credit card debts, any medical bills, personal and student loans, as well as any tax obligations.
Personal Information About Individuals You’d Like to Represent You
Consider who you would like to oversee your financial and/or health care needs if you were to become incapacitated. We will need these individuals’ full names, addresses, and phone numbers. You will also want to consider a second individual in case the primary is unavailable.
Bear in mind that you don’t have to use the same person for every document, and you don’t have to choose the same person your spouse chooses if you’re married.
If you’re writing a Last Will and Testament, you’ll need to decide who you would like to represent you and any alternate designee (if you wish to have an alternate). In the State of Florida, the law requires that a personal representative is over the age of 18, with no criminal convictions, of sound mind, capable of serving, and a Florida resident.
A non-resident of Florida can still be appointed as a personal representative but the person concerned needs to be a family member of the will maker. We need to know the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the personal representatives you choose.
Do you have any personal belongings that a particular family member or special friend would appreciate? Do you perhaps have a brother who has always loved your treasured vintage car — or a daughter who’d love to inherit Grandma’s jewelry collection?
As previously stated, estate planning at Ginsberg and Shulman is personalized to your unique circumstances, so it makes sense to think about the personal possessions you’d like to leave to a special someone. If this appeals to you, make a note of everything so you can tell us what the items are along with the name, address, and relationship of the individual who will receive the property.
Starting to consider these things ahead of time will speed up the process of getting your paperwork drawn up and executed. It will also help us to gain a better understanding of your needs and objectives and to respond to your queries more extensively at your initial meeting.
Our Estate Planning Process
It’s so simple to get started that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago!
Step One: The Consultation
We start with a complimentary consultation to evaluate your personal circumstances and family situation.
Step Two: A Tailored Resolution
Once we have all the information we need, we put our considerable knowledge and experience to work to create the perfect estate planning solution for you and your family. Once you approve the plan, we draw up the documentation ready for you to sign. With the documents signed, the estate planning is complete.
Should your circumstances change in the future, we can review your plan to make sure it still meets your needs.
Step Three: Peace of Mind
Just imagine the peace of mind you’ll feel knowing that, should anything untoward happen, you have an excellent legal plan in place that ensures your wishes would be followed.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation Today
Estate planning has evolved to encompass a wide range of planning tools from wills and trusts to more recent solutions like care directives and living wills. Give our helpful estate planning experts a call today to book a consultation.