Estate Planning

People put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re too busy, they think they have plenty of time to plan, or they just don’t want to think about it.  Unfortunately, unanticipated tragedies sometimes happen and their families are left to pick up the pieces.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Act now.”

Life is unpredictable. Make sure you’re ready.

Many people seem to have a morbid association with the process of writing a will or planning an estate, and this seems to generate a lot of needless anxiety.  So much anxiety, that many people put off the process much longer than they should.

Estate planning shouldn’t be about facing your mortality, but rather about taking control.Estate planning is simply the process of being ready to handle life’s unpredictable twists and turns.  By planning your estate now you are placing your family in the best possible position to confront your eventual absence or incapacity, rather than leaving your family in a reactive mode, when it is too late, and at the worst possible time, when they are scared and racked with grief at their loss.

Don’t let your loved ones be caught off-guard and unprepared.  Don’t wait.  Make a plan now – you can always change it later if you change your mind or your family or financial situation changes.  Knowing that you have a properly prepared plan in place, which contains your instructions and will provide protection for your family, will give you and your family peace of mind.  This is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for those you love.    

Estate Planning is for you.

We are so over hearing people say “I’m not rich. I have no estate to plan.”   A common misconception of “estate planning” is that it is something only really wealthy people do or need.  Not so.  No matter how large or how modest, you have an estate and you can’t take it with you when you pass away.   In fact, good planning is often more important to families with modest assets that can afford to lose the least.

Estate planning is also not just for “retired” people.  Unfortunately, no one can predict how long you will live and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.

Estate planning is also definitely not just for married couples.   Some couples choose to not (or are not allowed to by law)  marry and live in a long-term committed relationship.  If you are in a long-term committed or same-sex relationship and would like to provide for your partner upon your death or would like your partner to make decisions regarding your care in the event you become incapacitated, it is imperative that you plan your estate.  Likewise, a single person must designate his or her heirs and the persons in charge of making health care decision on his or her behalf, or the state will decide.

If you have loved ones or thoughts as to how your affairs should be conducted if you become incapacitated or pass away, then estate planning is for you.

Hey, you don’t have to plan your estate; you can always let the state do it for you.

In reality, everyone’s “estate” will be planned at some point, either by the individual or by the state.  Unfortunately, you make not like what the state has planned for you.

If you become mentally incapacitated, and you own assets in your name alone, the court, and not your family, will control how your assets are used for your care through a guardianship.  It can become quite expensive and time consuming for your family to deal with, it is a matter of public record, and it can be difficult to end, even if you recover.

If you pass away without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to Florida’s probate laws.  This may not be the way you would have intended.  Who is going to keep your prized record collection?  What about that special family heirloom watch?   Do you want your family fighting over this stuff?

More importantly, who is going to take care of your minor children if both of you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly?   Do you want to let some judge decide without knowing whom you would have chosen?  Didn’t think so.

Given the choice, wouldn’t you prefer these matters to be handled privately by your family, rather than the courts?  Wouldn’t you prefer to dictate who gets what and when?  If you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them?

A person or family can take the affirmative step of taking control of the process while living, or allow the state to make choices for you, on much less favorable (and more expensive) terms, after your death or incapacity.

We Listen. We Ask. We Explain.

Our approach to estate planning is simple.  We sit with you and listen.

We listen to your wishes and concerns and answer any questions you may have on the process.  We also ask you questions and point out issues you hadn’t contemplated.

We pride ourselves on being able to take a vastly complicated subject like estate planning, remove the dense tax jargon and legalese, and explain your options to you in a clear, straight forward fashion that will enable you to make the most informed decision for you and your family.

The Toolbox.

We offer comprehensive, tax-sensitive estate planning specifically tailored to meet the needs and goals of our clients. We utilize advanced estate and tax planning strategies to maximize our clients’ tax savings while accomplishing their desires and objectives.  We can help you with:

Wills.   We prepare wills, from the most simple one to the very complex. Don’t forget your pour-over will, which is designed to work in unison with your living trust.

Trusts.   We prepare trusts of all kinds, whether to simply to avoid the necessity of a probate administration at death, to administer an inheritance, to fund a grandchild’s education or whatever else your heart desires. More importantly, we advise you on how to properly fund and use your trusts. You’d be surprised how many people forget that a trust has to actually be funded in order to be an effective estate planning tool.

Powers of Attorney.   In the event you are absent or incapacitated, you can appoint someone to manage your affairs.

Advance Health Care Directives.   Designate a person or persons to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to express your wishes.

Living Wills.   Make your desires known regarding being kept on life-support and feeding tubes so your family doesn’t have to make this call.

Insurance Planning.   Insurance is an integral part of most estate plans.  Do you have enough life insurance?  Did you know that you could structure insurance products to provide income streams in the event of your incapacity or death?  Do you own a business or are you a partner in a professional practice and would like to make sure your family is properly protected in the event something happens to you?  These are all issues that can be addressed with proper insurance planning as a part of the greater estate plan.

Asset Protection Planning.   Protect your family’s assets from aggressive attorneys and frivolous lawsuits.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you feel you can’t afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford, then let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this stuff on your own in order to save money. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to provide critical guidance and the peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly.

Do you want to achieve the peace of mind of knowing that you have done everything possible to prepare your family and heirs? Start the process today! Call us at (305) 403-0641 or email us at