Estate Planning FAQs

1. What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning primarily involves arranging for the management and distribution of your assets after your death. But thorough estate planning also covers incapacity planning and legacy planning. The most common documents in an estate plan include a trust, pour-over will, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, living will, HIPAA waiver, and memorial instructions. We can create a plan for how we want things handled in the event we are unable to communicate, and for when we die. As long as those plans are properly prepared and executed, they must be followed.

2. Why is Estate Planning Important in Florida?

Estate planning is crucial in Florida to protect your assets, minimize taxes, avoid probate, and ensure your loved ones receive their inheritances according to your wishes. It is also critical for incapacity planning—how your finances and health care decisions are handled in the event you are unable to communicate. Without proper planning, the state’s intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your preferences. And without incapacity planning, a court may have to appoint a guardian to make critical decisions.

3. What Documents Are Essential for Estate Planning in Florida?

Key documents for estate planning in Florida include:

– Revocable Living Trust
– Last Will and Testament
– Durable Power of Attorney
– Designation of Health Care Surrogate
– Living Will
– HIPAA Waiver
– Memorial Instructions

4. Do I Need a Will if I Have a Trust?

While a trust can bypass probate and provide more privacy, a will (or a “pour-over will”) is still important for several reasons. If any property is not properly transferred into the trust, a pour-over will help transfer that property into your trust after you pass.

5. What is Probate and How Can I Avoid It?

Probate is the legal process of transferring assets. In Florida, it can be time-consuming and expensive. To avoid probate, you can create a revocable living trust, a lady bird deed (or other deed with right of survivorship), and/or transfer-on-death beneficiary designations on financial accounts.

6. Can I Change My Estate Plan?

You can change your will, revocable living trust, power of attorney, living will, and advance health care directive any time. But you likely will not have any control over an irrevocable trust. You should periodically review and update your estate planning documents, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of children or grandchildren, and significant changes in your finances.

7. Are Estate Taxes a Concern in Florida?

Florida does not have an estate or “death” tax, but federal estate tax may still apply to larger estates. Proper planning can help minimize or eliminate estate taxes through strategies like gifting, establishing trusts, and utilizing the marital deduction.

8. How Can I Protect My Estate From Long-Term Care Costs?

Long-term care costs can quickly deplete an estate. Medicaid planning and long-term care insurance are common strategies to protect assets while ensuring you receive the care you need.

9. What Happens if I Die Without an Estate Plan in Florida?

If you die without a valid estate plan in Florida, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. This may result in assets going to unintended beneficiaries or being subject to unnecessary taxes and probate expenses.

10. When Should I Start Estate Planning?

It’s never too early to start estate planning. Regardless of your age or financial situation, having a comprehensive estate plan in place provides peace of mind and ensures your wishes are carried out. It’s wise to consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss your options and create a plan tailored to your needs.

If you or anyone you know needs a lawyer to help with estate planning in Florida, please call us at 754-400-5150 or contact us online. Let the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen serve you!

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