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FAQ about Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

 

- What are the Advantages to Having a Will?

A will allows you to exercise control over the disposition of your property. 

Other benefits include:

  • Naming the personal representative of your choice.
  • Providing that your personal representative not be required to post a bond.
  • Creating trust for minors or adults who require assistance due to disabilities, inability to handle finances, or substance and other addictions.
  • Making gifts to charities.
  • Planning to reduce or eliminate estate tax.

- What Does Probating an Estate Mean?

Probate is a legal process provided by Florida Law, or the state where you reside, which determines the value of a deceased person’s estate, distribution of assets to beneficiaries, payment of creditor’s claims, and the legal transfer of ownership of real estate and other property and recorded ownership.

 

- What Happens to My Assets if I Die Without a Will?

If you do not make a Will to name your beneficiaries and designate what each will receive, the laws of Florida, or the state where you reside, will.  The State determines who will: receive your property and their percentage; be the executor to administer your estate; and be the guardian of your minor children.  Florida law generally provides for distribution to the surviving spouse and the closest family member.

 

- What Can a Parent of a Special Needs Child Do to Plan in Advance for the Child’s Future Care and Financial Affairs?

A coordinated plan that addresses your child’s financial, medical, and social needs can be developed.  It may involve creating and funding a Special Needs Trust within your Will or Trust to hold the child’s inheritance so that government benefits are not lost.  It can also involve having a Court appoint a Guardian, or Guardian Advocate to make decisions for your child.

 

- What is a Revocable Living Trust (Living Trust)?

It is an estate planning tool used to assist people who want their assets to avoid the probate process.  It is created and operates while you are alive.  You are the trustee who manages your affairs and finances.  You name a successor trustee in the event you become incapacitated or die.

The trust provides for continuity of management of your assets and investments during your incapacity.  This avoids the need for a legal guardianship proceeding.  To avoid probate, your assets are retitled in the name of the revocable trust.  Upon your death the trust’s assets pass to your beneficiaries, outside of probate, according to the terms of the trust document.

A living trust can:

  • Reduce the expense associated with probate administrations.
  • Provide for immediate distribution of the trust property.
  • Afford greater privacy during the administration process.