Estate planning can encompass much more than just a will. Many plans provide for the creation of trusts to fund a child’s education, provide instructions for how to carry on a business and make arrangements for the possibility of incapacity, among other items.
Proper estate planning can create peace of mind in case of the unexpected or inevitable. A Stuart estate planning lawyer could help you to identify your estate planning goals and draft the documents needed to protect and preserve your legacy. Call today and set up a consultation with a seasoned trusts and estates attorney.
One of the foremost goals of effective estate planning is to provide a clear set of instructions in the case of death. This generally begins with creating a will that meets the state’s standard for a valid testamentary document. For example, Fla. Stat. §732.502 says that a will must:
Of course, a will is not the only form of a testamentary document that takes effect upon the death of a person. Another example is a trust. Forming a trust can empower and require a trustee to hold property or funds for the benefit of a third party. For example, a person may set up a trust for the express purpose of funding a college education for a child or loved one.
Finally, a business succession plan can provide guidance as to what is to be done with a decedent’s business in case of death or incapacity. In larger companies, it can be critical to retain control over one’s shares or to specifically call for a successor to continue in one’s absence. An estate planning lawyer in Stuart could help explain the various forms of testamentary documents and how these documents serve to carry out one’s wishes after death.
Proper estate planning also involves planning for the possibility of disability during life. As people age, the chances of disability or incapacity, where a person is unable to care for his or her own well-being, increase. Having a proper estate plan can ensure that one’s wishes are respected in the event of incapacity.
Many people choose to turn over control of their financial affairs prior to an actual incapacity. This process typically involves the creation of a power of attorney document. This can be a general power of attorney to carry out all of one’s legal decisions or a limited power of attorney for an express purpose, such as selling a house.
In other scenarios, a person becomes incapacitated without providing another party power of attorney. Here, an interested person may petition the court to obtain guardianship over the incapacitated person. Under Fla. Stat. §744.3201, any person may ask for guardianship over another if they can provide evidence that the subject of the petition is unable to care for their own well-being. Opening a guardianship is a complex legal process that requires notification of all other interested parties, an examining committee to determine the subject’s apparent incapacity, and an opportunity for other parties to challenge the guardianship.
Proper estate planning is essential to your present and future. Especially in situations where you have many assets in the form of real estate, bank accounts, or business interest, estate planning can ensure that these assets go where you want when you pass away.
In addition, estate planning can help you to retain control if you are unable to do so yourself. Powers of attorney can grant other parties the ability to perform specific legal functions or to take control over all your affairs. Finally, a guardianship offers a last resort when someone has been incapacitated and did not have proper planning in place.
A Stuart estate planning lawyer could help with all your estate planning needs. A lawyer could help identify your goals and draft documents that give those goals legal effect. These decisions should not be delayed, though, as tragedy typically occurs without notice. Contact a Stuart estate planning attorney today to learn more.