Though there are many reasons clients may engage in estate planning, as Elder Law Attorneys we know that our clients have very specific needs and concerns and at Phillips & Finley we work hard to address those specific concerns. At this stage in life, many of our clients have defined assets and income. They are often thinking of leaving an inheritance to their children or grandchildren. They are often concerned with preserving their assets in the event they need nursing home care. Many want to make sure they have a plan in place to ensure their wishes and plans are adhered to in the event of incapacity. Each of these concerns can be addressed in proper estate planning.
Some of the tools often used by our offices to help our client plan for eventual death and incapacity are:
- Last Will & Testament
- Simple Revocable Trusts
- Enhanced Life Estate Deeds (Ladybird Deeds)
- Advance Directives
A Last Will & Testament is essentially a document that provides instructions to the court on how an individual would like their assets to be distributed upon their death. In Florida, a probate administration can be formal, wherein a personal representative is appointed, or summary, where an order is entered entitling specific individuals to ownership of specific assets in the estate. A formal administration on average lasts between 9 months to a year. A Summary Administration can take anywhere from 1 month to 6 months depending on the circumstances. Click here to learn more about probate administration.
Trusts and Ladybird Deeds are often used to avoid probate. Probate as mentioned above is the name given the legal process by which a court oversees the distribution of property left by an individual through a Last Will & Testament. Though a probate administration does have its advantages in certain circumstances, a probate administration is usually more costly than estate planning and tends to drag out the process of transferring assets after death. Additionally, a probate administration may more easily open the door to beneficiaries contesting the plan our client puts in place. Click here to learn more about probate avoidance.
Advance Directives such as Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Surrogates and Living Wills are the most useful tools in planning for incapacity. A client can appoint someone of their choosing, usually a spouse or adult child, to make decisions for them regarding their property and health care in the event the client is incapable of making informed decisions for themselves. Click here to learn more about Advance Directives.
Start Planning today
It can give you peace of mind to know that you have left clear instructions to your loved ones in the event of incapacity and death. To speak with a DeLand elder law lawyer about your estate plan, call Phillips & Finley LLC at 386-734-5959 386-734-5959.