Palm Coast Estate Planning Attorney
Serving all of Palm Coast, Florida
Estate planning is not an aspect of life that all people dedicate the necessary time to because many people believe that estate planning is something that only concerns the very wealthy. In actuality, any person who has concerns about what will happen to their property when they die or become incapacitated will want to make sure they have legal documents in place that ensure their assets will be passed on to the parties they want to receive the property.
A Palm Coast estate planning attorney can help people who are dealing with confusion about which estate planning documents to create so they can know exactly which steps to take to help their families possibly avoid a costly probate process. When you retain legal counsel, they can tell you how often you will need to update your documents and what kinds of changes in circumstances will merit immediate changes.
Types of Estate Planning Documents
An estate plan can include many different kinds of legal documents. Every single estate planning document will serve a different purpose, and some of the most common kinds of documents that people need assistance with include, but are not limited to:
Last Will and Testament
Frequently known as just a will, the last will and testament allows the testator (or the person creating the will) to express their wishes relating to how they want their property to be distributed following their death. A person will name one or more people to serve as their personal representatives to manage the estate until its final distribution.
Wills in Florida need to satisfy several different requirements to be valid. A testator must be 18 years of age and of sound mind (Florida will not allow any person who is not competent to make a will). The will must be in writing and signed by the testator and two witnesses in the presence of the testator.
Probate can be required for a person’s assets in an estate to be administered and distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the will. If a person dies without a will, their assets will be distributed according to the state law known as intestate succession, which dictates property distribution and distributes assets to family members based on state law.
A living will is a document that allows a person to express their preferences for medical treatment, such as end-of-life scenarios.
When discussing trusts, you are usually dealing with revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust is a document a person creates to manage their assets during their lifetime and distribute remaining assets following their death, but an irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated after being established without intervention by a court.
The grantor or settlor is the person who creates the trust, and the trustee is the person who manages the trust assets. People can serve as their own trustees if they choose, or they can appoint another individual, bank, or trust company to be the trustee.
Revocable trusts can be amended, restated, and revoked while a settlor is still alive and has not been adjudicated incapacitated. Revocable trusts become irrevocable if settlors die and are usually used only for estate planning purposes because they do not offer much protection against creditors.
A person who transfers assets into an irrevocable trust forfeits their rights of ownership to the assets. A trust becomes a written agreement between a person and the trustee.
Settlors cannot take back property they transfer to irrevocable trusts, and they cannot add or remove beneficiaries or change the terms and provisions of irrevocable trust agreements. Property held in an irrevocable trust will be protected from creditors of trust beneficiaries.
Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
The designation of healthcare surrogate authorizes a person to make healthcare decisions on a person’s behalf if they become unable to make those decisions on their own. It is most beneficial when a person ends up in a hospital and falls into a vegetative state or becomes otherwise unable to communicate their wishes.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable powers of attorney allow people to appoint agents who are given the legal authority to manage financial affairs during a person’s lifetime. An agent has broad authority over several financial decisions and certain decisions about property.
A durable power of attorney will survive incapacity. In other words, an agent may continue to make decisions on a person’s behalf if they become incapacitated and allow them to avoid the process of having a guardian appointed by a court.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Palm Coast Estate Planning Lawyer
Are you trying to formulate an estate plan in the Palm Coast area? You will want to be sure that you have experienced legal counsel working with you.
Upchurch Law has a wealth of experience in all kinds of estate matters, so we know how to help people make the best choices in these situations.
You can call (386) 272-7445 or contact us online to receive a free consultation with our Palm Coast estate planning lawyer.
They are well organized, detail oriented, and always looking for the best solution to the client's situation (not just the easy fix).- Chris B.
It gave me peace of mind and when I return I will go to him for my Will.- Lauri B.
Thomas Upchurch and his team have been remarkable in helping me take care of my grandmother's estate needs and Medicaid application to get her the care she deserves.- Ashley M.
I have had the privilege of working with Mr. Upchurch on behalf of numerous shared clients over the years. Each and every client has always expressed to me their thankfulness that Thomas Upchurch was involved in their case.- Ron Z.
I was highly impressed with Mr. Upchurch's skills and integrity, and feel very fortunate to have had him as our family's legal representative.- Gregory H.
Thomas and his staff were so helpful and professional which really helped my family and I when we didn't know what to do.- Maggie
Upchurch Law, and particularly Crystal Lukes (Legal Assistant), could not have been more competent, informative, pleasant to work with and aggressive in pursing a Probate close in a timely fashion.- Dorothy K.
Attorney Thomas Upchurch is professional, efficient, and knowledgeable of both probate litigation and estate planning.- Susan S.