Estate Planning

last will and testamentThe most basis step for an estate plan is to execute a will. A will or similar testamentary document protects the persons you love the most and want to provide for following your death. Not only is the content of the will important to be sure that your wishes are adhered to (remember, when a will is probated, you are not around to ask a clarification as to an ambiguity), but the execution process. An improper execution can add costs to the probate process.

However, a will must be probated. The probate process will result in attorneys fees and could delay assets being received by your desired beneficiaries for a minimum of six months to several years. Probate can be avoided through a trust. The most common vehicle is a Revocable Living (Inter Vivos) Trust. Your assets are placed in this trust during your lifetime and controlled by you as a trustee. Upon your death, your successor trustee takes control of these assets and distributes or holds them as per you specific wishes as set forth in the trust instrument. Also, this trust can be the beneficiary of your life insurance, giving you more control from the grave as to what happens to those proceeds. Also, if you become incapacitated, since you have a successor trustee who will control your assets and use them for your support, there is no need for a probate court to control your assets through a guardianship, resulting in a significant cost savings.

Other instruments to be aware of would be irrevocable trusts, life insurance trusts, QTIP trusts, and charitable trusts, which are used in more sophisticated estates planning cases where there may be estate tax issues. Also, our estate planning documents include the preparation of durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, and living wills. In this area, those on a domestic partnership living arrangement, same sex or otherwise must be keenly aware of their need for estate planning. There is no protection of the partner under intestate laws, and without a health care designation, doctors and medical personnel are bared to speaking with the partner as to the other’s medical condition.

Call Miami Estate Planning Attorney Jerome Kavulich at 305-442-7978 to set up a consultation to discuss your case. We have over 29 years of experience in Florida Estate Planning Law and will put this experience to work for you.