Estate Planning Archives

Does Having a Will Avoid Probate in Florida?

One of the most common misconceptions I run into as an estate planning lawyer is that many people think that if they have a Last Will and Testament in Florida, probate will not be necessary. The reality is that a Will sets forth the deceased person's wishes--such as designating the beneficiaries and the Personal Representative to oversee the estate. In essence, the Will acts as the "roadmap" for the probate court to follow. But the important thing to understand is that the Will is not self-implementing--it is the power given by the probate court that implements the wishes set forth in the Will.

How Can a Living Trust Benefit You and Your Loved Ones?

A Living Trust (also sometimes called a Revocable Trust) is a written document which allows the person setting it up to provide for the holding and distribution of their assets. In effect, a Living Trust is much like a Last Will and Testament in that it designates to whom assets are to be distributed and who will be in charge of distributing them. However, the way the Living Trust accomplishes these objectives is significantly different and thereby offers some definite benefits to both you and to your loved ones. Here are the major benefits:

What is a "Spendthrift" Provision in a Florida Trust?

Most well-drafted Trusts contain a spendthrift provision-also sometimes called a restraint on alienation provision. Such a provision sets forth special language preventing creditors from attaching or "taking away" the interest of a beneficiary named in a Trust. Florida law enforces spendthrift provisions so long as they apply to both voluntary and involuntary transfers.

Do you have a Living Will?

If you've ever been a patient at a hospital or any other medical facility, you've probably been asked this question: "Do you have a Living Will?" So what is this document? A Living Will is a document which allows you to declare your desires in the event of an "end-of-life" situation such as a terminal illness, an end-stage condition, or a permanent vegetative state. In making this declaration, here is some typical language contained in a Florida Living Will:

Ready for anything? Are You "In Omnia Paratus?"

A well-recognized Latin phrase, "In Omnia Paratus" is translated as "Ready for anything." Legally speaking, when it comes to life's challenges, many adults are not ready for anything. In particular, they are not ready in the event of disability, incapacity, or death. They simply are not prepared.

Ready or Not? Semper Paratus or Non Paratus?

The motto of the United States Coast Guard is "Semper Paratus" which is Latin for "always ready" or "always prepared." When it comes to being prepared for life's challenges, including illness, incapacity, and death, it is wise to be "always prepared." Unfortunately, in law practice many times we see that people are "Non Paratus" or "not prepared."

Emergencies don't happen on banker's hours: So where should you keep your estate planning documents?

As an estate planning lawyer, I'm often asked by clients where they should keep their original estate planning documents. Do they need to keep them in a bank safe-deposit box? Generally speaking, my advice is to keep them somewhere safe and accessible but a safe-deposit box may not be the best answer and in many instances, is actually not recommended.

Do you have per stirpes?

As an estate planning lawyer, one of my principal objectives in drafting a client's Will or Trust is to name the beneficiaries which the client wants to receive their estate. Often this will be a spouse or children and in some cases, other family members. What happens if the person named dies before the person who established the Will or Trust? Does the intended devise (gift) go to the deceased beneficiary's children or to someone else? The answer is, "it depends."

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