Be Prepared for the Future
Estate Planning Attorney Daytona Beach
Estate planning is not a one-time event: It’s an evolving, ongoing process that addresses your future needs. With the guidance of a Florida probate attorney, an estate plan helps you protect your assets and determine how they will be distributed or managed should you become unable to oversee the management of your personal affairs.
Estate planning is much more than writing a will. Your estate plan should also include documents that establish your health care power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and living will. These documents, along with a simple will, comprise an effective estate plan for most individuals. More complex estate plans, however, may involve business planning, tax planning, and a host of other strategies. To learn more about an estate plan that may be right for your needs, schedule a consultation with estate planning attorney Thomas Upchurch.
Benefits of an Estate Plan.
It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for those with a high net worth or income, or people approaching retirement. Every adult, at every stage of life, can benefit from having an estate plan in place, regardless of their age or marital status, whether they have children, or the total value of their assets. Keep in mind that the equity in your home or the balance in your 401(k) account are assets that should be protected, and that not all aspects of an estate plan are strictly financial.
An effective estate plan can help you in these areas and more:
- Determine who will manage your affairs if you become incapacitated during your lifetime
- Provide specific instructions on how you want your affairs managed should you become incapacitated
- Provide instructions on how you want your assets distributed upon your passing
- Direct when and if you ever want your assets distributed during your lifetime
- Determine who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated, and provide instructions on whether you want life-prolonging measures to be taken and, if so, under what specific circumstances
Estate Planning FAQ.
These are just some of the frequently asked questions we hear about estate planning. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact Upchurch Law or call at 386-320-6169.
A: All of the property you control or own—or that may be generated upon your death, such as life insurance— is your estate. You may be the sole owner of this property, or share ownership. Your estate includes these items and more:
- Real property, such as houses and buildings
- Personal property, such as cars, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, mutual funds, cash, jewelry and furniture
- Life insurance, IRAs, pension benefits, and obligations or debts owed
- Businesses and business interests
A: In addition to the benefits outlined above, an estate plan gives you control over how your assets will be managed after your death and ensures your end-of-life wishes are carried out. Without a will or other estate documents, any decisions will be dictated by Florida law, which may or may not be in line with what you would have wanted if you’d had a say in your affairs. Another important reason to have a will and estate plan is that it relieves family members of having to make decisions and minimizes conflict over your estate.
A: In short, yes, and there are plenty of software and online options to do so. But there are a number of excellent reasons why you should work with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney. A will that’s incorrectly written or improperly executed may be found to be invalid, and the rules that govern the drafting of wills varies from state to state. It’s very easy to make errors while preparing your own will, and some of them can have significant effects later on. It’s also easy to overlook the inclusion of some assets or omit clear instructions on how your estate should be administered. It’s also very important to have an estate planning lawyer work with you to draft a will that will withstand the probate process and accurately reflect all of your wishes
A: In order to change your will, you will need to execute an amendment or execute a new will. In either instance, the guidance of an estate planning lawyer is essential. An amendment, or codicil, must make proper reference to your existing will that remains in effect, and must be signed in the presence of witnesses and be notarized. A new will should include language that makes it clear that you are revoking your previous will. A qualified attorney will ensure that either a codicil or new will is properly prepared and valid.
A: When a testator dies, his or her will must be submitted to a probate court for execution. This is the legal process that carries out the administration of your estate and is overseen by a probate judge. The judge determines whether the will meets the requirements of Florida law. If there is no valid will at the time of the testator’s death, the legal process of administering and closing out his or her estate is still governed by the probate judge. The probate process can be complicated, so it’s best to have an estate planning and probate attorney assist you in identifying estate assets, working with creditors, and managing the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries.
A: There is often confusion surrounding the meaning of the term “living will.” Unlike a traditional will that sets out instructions for how your assets will be distributed after your death, a living will goes into effect while you are still living. A living will gives you the opportunity to provide specific instructions, in advance, for your end-of-life medical care, including whether you wish to be kept alive by life-support apparatus and/or want other measures taken to prolong your life. Because a person cannot know when he or she may be incapacitated and unable to express such wishes, it’s important to have proper documentation that makes those wishes clear.
A: This is a legal document that allows you to delegate authority to another person, with the definition of that authority spelled out in the document. A power of attorney may grant another person the right to sell a property, access financial accounts, sign legal documents, or other such “powers.” A power of attorney is a very important document and is subject to complex laws and regulations, so it should be drawn by an experienced attorney.
A: In the simplest terms, a person is said to die testate when he or she has a valid will in effect at the time of death, and intestate when there is no valid will. The laws of “intestate succession” dictate that the legal system will determine how your estate is distributed. If you die intestate—or if your will is not properly prepared and therefore invalid—you will have had no influence on or control over who receives assets from your estate. Having a will prepared by an experienced estate attorney is the best strategy for ensuring your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
A: The government levies taxes on the estate of a deceased person, but Florida does not have an estate tax (or an inheritance tax). If you inherit property from someone in a state that does have an inheritance tax, however, you may be taxed. There may also be federal estate taxes that apply to your unique situation, so you should consult an estate planning attorney for more information about state and federal estate and inheritance taxes.
A: Ideally, you should meet with your estate planning attorney every few years to keep your will current and make sure it stays in compliance with any changing Florida laws. You should at least update your will whenever you experience a significant change in your life, such as marrying, divorcing, or having a child.
How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You.
Whether you are just beginning to consider estate planning or have a comprehensive estate plan that needs to be updated, an estate planning attorney can help ensure that your assets will be protected and that your affairs will be managed according to your wishes after you pass. He or she will help you understand all of your options and prepare all of the documentation necessary to properly plan your personal legacy.
At Upchurch Law, attorney Thomas Upchurch provides expert estate planning legal services and can assist you with even the most complex estate matters. If you have questions about how best to protect your interests and those of your loved ones in the future, we invite you to schedule a consultation to review your estate planning needs.
Thomas Upchurch serves the entire Central and North Florida Areas including Daytona Beach , Port Orange , Deland , Ormond Beach , Jacksonville , Palm Coast , Orlando , Saint Augustine and New Smyrna Beach