Florida Wills and Probate Attorneys Protect Your Estate
Preserving family wealth
Whether you’re planning the parameters of your future medical care or establishing support for loved ones upon your death, probating a will in Florida can be a complicated matter. The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. can help with all aspects of trusts and estates issues, including:
- Estate planning
- Estate tax issues
- Choosing the appropriate executor
- Living wills
- Living trusts
- Wills drafting
Securing your legacy
You work hard for your family, so knowing that you have planned for their long-term well-being and financial security can bring you comfort. We thoroughly analyze your estate and strategize the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, establishing guardianship for your children, caring for your pets, supporting personal philanthropic causes and protecting your loved ones.
Probate is a process supervised by the courts that identifies and gathers all the assets of a deceased person (known in legal terms as the decedent) and uses those assets to pay off a decedent’s debts and fairly distribute the reaming assets to the decedents beneficiaries.
There are two types of probate administration under Florida law: formal and summary administration. There is also a non-court supervised administration called “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration.” But this type of administration is only used in rare cases. Also, probate administration is only applicable to probate assets. Probate assets are assets owned by decedent that are only in their at death. Other probate assets include those that were owned by the decedent along with one or more co-owners but lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at the time of death.
Some probate assets include:
- Bank or investment accounts in the sole name of the decedent.
- A life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account payable to the decedent’s estate.
- Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants in common, is a probate asset (unless it is homestead property).
Probate is the legal, and necessary way, to give ownership of probate assets to a decedent’s beneficiaries, but only if there was no will. Probate can also help to legally ensure that the decedent’s financial affairs are taken care of, such as paying off creditors to ensure the decedents beneficiaries are not burdened with debt. Trying to go through probate court without a lawyer is highly discouraged. The legal nuances can be complicated, and the decision made by a probate court can affect a decedent’s beneficiaries for the rest of their lives.
Draft your living will and last will and testament
Avoiding probate then should be a top priority and done while you are still alive. A will is essential at every stage of your life. There are two basic types of wills; a living will and a last will and testament.
What is a living will? A living will sets the parameters for medical intervention should you become incapacitated. This assures that when you are most vulnerable, your wishes will be honored. It can be a written of oral statement that spells out how you want to be taken care of, or not taken care of, should you be otherwise unable to make your own decisions. It’s called a living will because it’s made and takes effect while you are still alive and able to make your own health care decisions.
A living will can be part of something called an Advance Directive. These directives, including your living will, are often made when a person is first diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or condition, but can be made while a person is healthy.
In addition to a living will, another Advance Directive is the designation of a heath care surrogate. This is a legal document which names another person as your representative who can make medical decisions for you if you can’t. This designation can include instructions concerning your treatment; you can also name an alternate.
The third directive is an anatomical donation. This is a document that specifies whether or not you wish to donate your organs or leave your body to science or for health care training.
Your individual situation will dictate whether you want to have all three directives, a combination of the three or simply a living will.
Your last will provides the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes upon your death. A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to a person or entity other than a blood relative, such as a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, the court determines how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your pet – making decisions that might not reflect your desires.
We can draft valid wills that ensure your intentions are honored.
People have asked if a last will and testament prepared out of state is still valid in Florida. The answer is yes, an out of state will is still valid in Florida, however they must be probated in Florida. This can be avoided by keeping your last will and testament should be updated.
Changing your will
As your life changes, so might your estate plan. You may need to update your will throughout your life. We draft valid codicils that address changes in your financial situation, marital status, number of children, philanthropic interests and general lifestyle decisions.
Appointment of guardianship
If you have minor children, your will allows you to make decisions about their future care. This is especially crucial if you are a single parent or if both parents die in a common incident. If you do not name a guardian, the court will appoint a guardian for your children and can make decisions adverse to your ultimate parenting goals. You can also make arrangements for your pets’ care in your will, including naming a guardian to take responsibility for your pets.
Contact a Florida estate planning law firm to schedule a consultation
For estate planning services in Orange County, call The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. at 407-883-1024 or contact us online to schedule a initial consultation at our Winter Park office.