Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Clearwater, Florida
Planning for the future after your death or incapacitation is difficult. A skilled estate planning attorney can help to ease the planning process and can streamline you or your family’s affairs to make sure that your assets are handled according to your wishes. We also administer estates in probate, so we know how the decisions you make now will affect you and your loved ones when you pass away. We can tell you how much will be left for your kids or other loved ones if you did not have an estate plan. Hiring an attorney to draft your estate plan will make sure that your assets are not wasted on paying for probate, or unnecessarily paying bills that may not be required by law. We can explain your options and create a plan that will help preserve your assets and make sure your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
You have worked for a lifetime to earn something to pass on to your family after you are gone. You do not want your life’s efforts wasted on paying creditors, probate attorneys, and court fees. An estate plan can help to provide you with peace of mind in knowing that the assets that you have worked so hard to earn will be going to your loved ones. Additionally, an estate plan provides some additional protection if you have a life threatening injury or if you suffer from an illness that causes you to be unable to make important decisions. Our attorneys are experienced at consulting with clients about their wishes and crafting an estate plan that is right for you.
What are the most common documents associated with estate planning?
There are several key documents that we use at Richert Quarles P.A. to create a well-designed estate plan. Although every individual person’s situation is different, these common estate planning documents are important in most financial plans.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that allows for a trusted person to make decisions for you. This document is incredibly important if you are ever incapacitated and are unable to make important decisions, such as applying for Medicaid if you need to go to a nursing home or accessing your bank accounts in order to provide for your care if you are incapacitated. Due to the powers included in a durable power of attorney, it is critical that you consult with an attorney about drafting the power of attorney. If a durable power of attorney is not drafted correctly, your agent may not be able to take action when you need it most or you may be providing powers that you do not want to provide to someone you may not trust.
A living will is a document that determines your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated and have an end-stage terminal illness or you are in a persistent vegetative state. In either of these situations, the living will makes your wishes known that the process of dying not be artificially and unnecessarily prolonged. If you are incapacitated, a living will is the only way to make your wishes known and to make your wishes are carried out.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
A designation of health care surrogate is a document that names a trusted person as a health care decision maker in the event that you are incapacitated. If you do not have a designation of health care surrogate, there may not be any designated person to make critical health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself. Making this designation lets you pick the person you know will make the healthcare decisions you would make for yourself.
Designation of Pre-need Guardian
A designation of pre-need guardian lets you decide who will oversee your affairs if you become incapacitated or incompetent, your durable power of attorney is unable address your needs, and a guardianship is necessary.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is one of the most important documents in an estate plan. It is a relatively simple document that provides instructions for your loved ones on the distribution of your assets after you have passed away. If a person does not have a will, that person has no control over the distribution of their assets after they pass away. The assets will be distributed according to intestate distribution under Florida Statutes, which usually is not in agreement with the wishes of the decedent. A will is the only way you can be assured that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.
What is a trust?
In some instances a trust is necessary to meet the goals of avoiding probate, and distributing property. A trust is a document that provides asset protection and allows for certain assets contained within the trust to pass outside of probate in Florida. This is a document that you may or may not need, and depends heavily upon the amount and types of assets you own. Only a consultation with an attorney will provide you with the advice about whether a trust would be a worthwhile investment for you. During your free consultation, one of our attorneys will be able to talk with you about whether a trust is right for your unique situation.
What are the benefits of estate planning?
The probate process also takes time and exposes your private property, assets, and family to the public eye. A properly constructed estate plan can help you avoid this from happening.
At the free 30 minute consultation with our attorneys, you will be provided with an evaluation of what documents in an estate plan are right for your specific situation. Our firm also provides an estate plan package that includes all of the documents listed above at a single flat rate. Estate planning documents can also be provided on an individual basis and at a fixed price per document. Most importantly, every estate planning document provided by our firm comes with the advice and counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney so that you know you will be prepared in the event the documents are required. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.