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Estate Planning Is Not Only For The Select Few

Some people think that estate planning is reserved for people with multiple real estate holdings, businesses or generational wealth to protect. Others believe estate planning is something only those in their golden years need to consider. The truth of the matter is that everyone over the age of 18 should consider establishing an estate plan. If you’re ready to plan your estate, the skilled attorneys at Brown & Associates Law & Title, P.A., are here to help you every step of the way.

A Will Can Be The Cornerstone Of Your Estate Plan

An estate plan often begins with a will expressing your choice of a personal representative to take care of your final affairs and distribute your assets according to your wishes. If you are a parent with minor children, you may nominate your choice of guardian to care for your children. Without a will, your family could face avoidable frustration, disputes and confusion about your wishes. Additionally, your property will be subject to distribution according to Florida’s intestate succession laws. If this is the case, your assets could end up being given to someone you did not intend.

What Other Documents Should You Consider When Planning Your Estate?

In addition to a will, a typical estate plan comprises several legal documents and instruments that address your wishes while you are alive, as well as others that address the distribution of your assets when you pass away. These include:

Advance directives: These are legal instruments expressing your wishes for end-of-life health care if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Durable financial power of attorney: This is a trusted agent you have authorized to act on your behalf for your financial matters if you become incapacitated while alive.

One or more trusts: Trusts are powerful legal tools that give you significant control over how and when your assets are distributed to beneficiaries. We can assist you with establishing several types of trusts, including land trusts, to safeguard your legacy. Trusts range from simple to complex, depending on your circumstances and family’s needs.

When you contact our firm, we will also help you understand the benefits of seeking life insurance or disability insurance to safeguard your loved one’s financial stability. If you own a business, we will strategize with you about transferring your business upon your disability, retirement or death.

Understanding The Differences Between Revocable Trusts And Irrevocable Trusts

The fundamental difference between these two types of trusts is that one can be changed or revoked while the other is “set in stone.” The person who creates a trust is called the “grantor.” With a revocable trust, grantors commonly name themselves as trustees. They can choose to change the provisions of the trust or revoke the trust at any time, and they also maintain control of the trust assets. By contrast, irrevocable trusts cannot be amended or revoked, and the grantor does not retain control of the assets.

Revocable trusts are a commonly utilized estate planning tool. Typically, the grantor creates the trust, places his assets in it and names himself as trustee. While he is alive, he retains control of the assets. Once he passes away, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the assets are distributed to named beneficiaries according to the trust terms. Because the assets are owned by the trust and not by the grantor, they are not subject to probate.

Using Estate Planning To Minimize Estate Taxes In Florida

Creating a revocable trust is one way to minimize tax liabilities, because the assets in the trust are not considered part of the estate. However, our firm can help you find other ways to reduce estate taxes, including strategies such as:

  • Distributing assets as gifts (while still alive) instead of inheritances
  • Making charitable donations
  • Creating additional trusts, including qualified personal residence trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Strategically spending down assets
  • Utilizing private annuities

The specific options will depend on the details of your estate as well as your overall needs and goals.

Why Is It Important To Work With An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

Your estate plan protects you when you cannot protect yourself, and it speaks for you when you are no longer around to speak. Simply put, it is critical to ensure that all documents are clearly written, legally sound and enforceable or executable.

Taking a do-it-yourself approach to estate planning by using free online forms might save you money right now, but any mistakes or omissions could end up costing your loved ones far more money – not to mention stress and potential conflict – down the road. By working with one of our skilled lawyers, you can be sure that your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes and protects you and those you love.

Let Us Help You With Your Estate Plan Or Probate

Estate planning frequently makes some people uncomfortable because it involves discussing the distribution of their estate when they die. At Brown & Associates Law & Title, P.A., we understand the roller coaster of emotions some clients experience when first discussing estate planning. But you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have planned for the stability of your family members when the time comes you are no longer here to provide for them.

We provide free initial consultations to prospective clients interested in planning their estate, as well as to families that recently lost a loved one and want to discuss their probate options. To get started, call Brown & Associates Law & Title, P.A., in Tampa today at 813-576-3790 or send us an email.