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What You Need To Know About The Different Types Of Estate Planning Tools In Florida

In this article, you can discover:

  • How writing a will can benefit you
  • The purpose of a trust and the main types of trusts
  • Information on healthcare surrogates

What Is A Will And Are There Different Types In Florida?

A will is an important legal document that outlines your wishes for how your property should be distributed to your chosen heirs. It can also address what should happen if one of the heirs passes away and has children, or if there are any minor or special needs children that are part of the family. By having a will in place, you can help ensure that your final wishes are carried out. If no will is executed, the state has a default scheme in place to determine distribution of estate assets, but such default scheme may not accomplish a person’s testamentary wishes.

A will is an important legal document that allows you to specify your wishes regarding what happens to your assets after you pass away. Without a will, your assets will be divided evenly among your beneficiaries. This can cause problems if, for example, you have multiple children who all have different desires with regard to the family home. Having a will provides a person the opportunity to design a plan to distribute your assets according to your wishes. Furthermore, it allows you the option to name who will be in charge of your estate, known in Florida as the personal representative.

Children and surviving spouses are two important groups of people that you may need to consider when making your will. If you have minor children or children with special needs, it is especially critical to make sure that your estate plan addresses what will happen in the event of your death. This can be a difficult decision to make, but it is important to have a plan in place in case something happens to you. If you do not have a will, it is more likely that your wishes will not be carried out after your death.

There are several types of wills that can be created. One option is a testamentary trust will, which sets up a trust after the person dies. This type of will is different from having a standalone trust. With a testamentary trust will, the terms of the trust are written into the will. Another option is known as a Pour-Over will. This type of will is used in estate plans that have one or more trusts as part of the overall plan and any assets not assigned or transferred to the trust during life or upon death are transferred into the Trust by the terms of the Pour-over Will. This type of will is often used in conjunction with a Revocable Trust.

What Is The Purpose Of A Trust?

One of the main benefits of setting up a trust is that it provides privacy for the beneficiaries. Without a trust, the details of assets and beneficiaries of the estate would be revealed through the court system, which would make them public record. This would open up the possibility of cold calls and unsolicited offers from real estate investors, which can be very intrusive. Having a trust helps to keep things private and shielded from unwelcome attention.

A trust can also help protect your assets. The trustee of the trust can hold onto distributions, or have discretion over when to distribute them, which means that if any heirs, family members, or beneficiaries face divorce, bankruptcy, or creditor problems, the trustee can negotiate or possibly even avoid some debts of beneficiaries of the Trust. In sum, Trusts are integral in estate management and overall asset protection.

In brief, a trust is a contractual arrangement in which one person (the trustee) holds legal title to property for another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can be used to manage property during life and after death. In Florida, the most common type of trust is a revocable trust. This type of trust can be amended or revoked at any time by the person who created it.

Another type of trust is an irrevocable trust. These trusts can be useful to maximize estate and gift tax exemptions and are also useful for long-term care and Medicaid planning. Furthermore, persons may have a direct need for a trust that once established and funded – Cannot be changed!

What Are The Most Common Trusts You Can Put Together For Clients?

There are many different types of trusts that can be used for estate planning, but the two most common types that I deal with are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. Revocable trusts can be amended or revoked at any time, while irrevocable trusts are permanent and cannot be changed once they are established and funded. Typically, my clients are normally best served with a revocable trust, but it depends on the needs of the client.

At our estate planning law firm, we specialize in revocable trusts. Revocable trusts are normally individual trusts for each person’s estate plan, but there are circumstances in which a joint trust is effective in accomplishing. The main benefits of a revocable trust are privacy and ease of administration. Upon the death of the settlor of the trust, the trust also provides asset protection benefits and flexibility to the Trustee to follow the settlor’s wishes if laws or taxes have changed. The costs of setting up and maintaining a revocable trust are typically significantly lower than the costs of estate administration.

What Healthcare Documents Are Necessary To Include In An Estate Plan?

A healthcare surrogate is a crucial document in everyone’s estate plan. This document allows you to name someone who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. They can request your medical records, talk to your doctor, and advocate for you in the healthcare system. Having a healthcare surrogate in place can give you peace of mind that there is someone with the authority to step in and make sure your interests are served if you are unconscious or unable to make your own healthcare decisions.

If you don’t have a healthcare surrogate, some hospitals will not provide your family information about your health status. Technically, without the presentation of a valid healthcare surrogate, they are legally bound to abstain from divulging a patient’s information by HIPAA.

Without authorizing a healthcare surrogate, if an accident happens, you may end up in a situation where your loved ones are in the dark about your health status. This can be a terrible situation for family members to be in, especially when a child goes off to college and is now an adult and has an accident. Yes, parents with children going to college need to have this authority or otherwise they may be making a late night trip to Gainesville or Tallahassee if an accident occurs and there is no designated healthcare surrogate. While there may be times when this can’t be avoided, in most cases it is possible to prevent by having that conversation and document in place ahead of time.

As someone who has experienced firsthand the  importance of Medicaid planning, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to get all the information you can from the facility your loved one is in. Unfortunately, not all facilities are equally forthcoming with this type of information, which can make things very difficult for families. That’s why I believe it is so important to have a healthcare surrogate in place – someone who can advocate for your loved one and make sure their needs are being met.

As an estate attorney, I believe that it is necessary to have both a durable power of attorney and a healthcare surrogate as part of your estate plan. A lot of durable powers of attorney have provisions that allow the agent to access the principal’s medical information, but I would not rely solely on that. I think it’s important to have a healthcare surrogate as well. These documents need to be drafted according to the statutes. Having both of these in place will give you the best legal protection.

For more information on Estate Planning Law In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (561) 907-7848 | (239) 933-8753 today.

Florida Elder Law Offices, LLC

Call Now To Schedule A Consultation
(561) 907-7848 | (239) 933-8753

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