When people think of estate and trusts, they may not be so familiar with the nuanced Palm city estate planning terms that are engrained into this area of civil law. Because of this new and unfamiliar terminology, it may be best to work with an attorney who is familiar with estates and trusts. Reaching out to an attorney is often the first step toward a better understanding of this branch of civil law.
First, an executor and personal representative are the same term. The term “personal representative” is more commonly used in the state of Florida. A personal representative is the legally court-appointed fiduciary of a decedent’s estate. Typically, someone nominates a personal representative in their will, but that person does not actually become the personal representative of the estate until the court appoints them.
There are many Palm City estate planning terms. One, in particular, is that of a grantor. “Grantor” is a term that is typically used in the context of the creation of a trust. The grantor is the person who creates the trust so one may think of them as the creator. They are sometimes also referred to as the “settlor”. Speaking with a Martin County estate planning lawyer is a good way to better familiar oneself with these unique terms.
A last will and testament is a legal document in which a person makes distribution decisions about their assets following their death. In order for a last will and testament to be valid in the state of Florida, it must be signed at the end by the person making the will and witnessed by two witnesses.
An advanced medical directive is a document that provides for others to make healthcare decisions for a person if they are unable to make their own. In Florida, healthcare surrogate document and living will documents are common. The healthcare surrogate document is where someone appoints another to make general medical decisions for them if they are unable to make their own. A living will address the specific scenario of end-of-life care. Typically, this means taking a person off life support if the chances of them living are small.
Probate is the legal process for settling an estate. In Florida, this process typically takes six to nine months but at times can take one to two years. Part of this process involves identifying interested parties which will include beneficiaries and potential creditors.
Intestacy is the state of dying without a will in place. This type of estate is referred to as “intestate”. When dealing with an intestate situation, the laws of the state of Florida will determine who benefits from the estate, including those in Martin County.
An abbreviated probate order may only be obtained in situations where the value of the probate estate does not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for at least two years.
When people are looking to give authority and agency of themselves over to another, they are thinking of a “power of attorney”–one of the many Palm City estate planning terms. A power of attorney is a document in which a person appoints another or bestows another with specific powers and potential duties. A power of attorney may be limited in scope, in which case it may be referred to as a “limited” power of attorney, or it may be much broader. The latter type is typically referred to as a “durable” power of attorney, and it can cover a whole range of powers and duties.
Guardianship is a court-supervised process in which a guardian is named for someone who may not be able to represent themselves or make decisions for themselves. This frequently occurs in the case of elderly people who have not done any estate planning when they begin to lose capacity. Guardianships are also common when larger sums of money are left to young beneficiaries under the age of 18 years old.
When a Martin County court appoints a personal representative, proper notice of appointment must be served on all interested parties including beneficiaries. This notice is correctly referred to as a “notice of administration” and it must be served through formal notice. Typically, if the person being served is not represented by an attorney, a formal notice is accomplished through certified mail return receipt requested. There is one alternative to a notice of administration, and that is a waiver. In other words, an interested party may waive the requirement of the notice of administration.
The purpose of the notice of administration is to put all interested parties on notice as to the identity of the personal representative and the fact that the decedent’s estate has been opened. Certain interested parties may have the right to different statutory elections or exemptions, and the notice, in part, apprises them of those rights.
There are many palm city estate planning terms. So many that the majority of people unfamiliar with estate law may find themselves confused as to how to best protect their estate from courts, taxes, and other intrusions. Thankfully, there are attorneys who could help you understand the nuances of court terms and definitions. Reach out to one today.