In the initial interview we will discuss your family circumstances and the persons you want to benefit from your assets presently or after death. This will include identifying your spouse, children and any other beneficiaries, including noting any special needs or circumstances, and fiduciaries (personal representatives, trustees, attorneys-in-fact) to carry out your estate plan.
We will discuss your assets and how they are held. This would include those held individually and those held with another person. This would include a review of current beneficiary designations you may have on any bank, investment and retirement accounts or life insurance policies or other assets.
Working together we will develop an estate plan that meets your family’s specific goals and objectives.
Depending on your unique circumstances, the following documents, as well as others, may be discussed.
Last Will and Testament
If you do not have a Will, Florida Law determines who receives your assets.
A will is a written document that controls the disposition of those assets that are in your name only. It does not control assets you own jointly with another person, such as joint bank accounts, real estate, brokerage accounts, etc. Nor does it control assets that have named beneficiaries under the agreement which established the asset, such as an Individual Retirement Account, or an account that transfers on the death of the owner to a named beneficiary. Different laws govern those assets.
Revocable or Irrevocable Trusts and Living Trusts
A Revocable Living Trust avoids probate and its costs and expenses. It may shorten the delay of passing your assets to your beneficiaries. It provides privacy, whereas in probate your Will is filed in the public records. It can be structured to minimize estate taxes.
It can be amended or revoked at any time, and upon your death becomes irrevocable.
It also may provide asset protection to your beneficiaries, to protect the assets against their creditors. Your Trustee has a fiduciary duty to administer your assets according to the terms of the trust.
An Irrevocable Trust, with limited exceptions, may not be amended or revoked.
A Living Will expresses your desire that extraordinary and artificial means not be used to keep you alive if there is no possibility of your recovery from a terminal illness or condition. Life support and nutrition and hydration (food and water) may be withdrawn or withheld to allow you to pass away peacefully.
Under this document you may designate a person (surrogate) to make medical decisions and to receive medical information on your behalf if you are seriously ill or injured and are unable to make your own medical decisions as to your care.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney permits a named person (the attorney-in-fact) to act on your (the principal’s) behalf without the judicial appointment of a guardian or conservator of your property. The attorney-in-fact is given broad powers to manage your assets and financial affairs. This may include handling of bank or investment accounts, paying bills, selling or buying assets, filing annual tax returns and making certain tax elections, as under an Individual Retirement Account of annuity, etc.
The formation of a company to hold certain assets, such as real estate, may be discussed. These include closely held corporations, limited liability partnerships and limited liability companies.