Wills & Trusts
It was once said that only two things in life are inevitable: death and taxes. While many Americans prepare themselves for tax season each year, the same cannot be said when it comes to preparing for death. In fact, recent polls have shown that over half of Americans – including Americans with young children – have no plan for their possessions or for the care of their children once they pass. Whether this shocking statistic is due to a fear of or uncomfortable feeling about one’s own death or whether creating a will or a living trust is something most simply do not regularly think about, dying without a sound estate plan can leave important decisions about the care of your children and the distribution of your assets in the hands of the
Instead of the uncertainty and frustration that the court’s probate process entails, give yourself and your family peace of mind by creating a sound estate plan with the attorneys at Shrouder, Karns & Mager, P.A.
What is the Estate Planning Process?
An estate plan simply refers to the legal document or documents you have created during your lifetime that direct the actions of courts and administrators of your estate in tying up your affairs after you pass. With few exceptions, an estate plan can inform others of your wishes as to:
- Who should care for your underage children if your spouse is unable to do so;
- Who should be looked at by the court to handle your affairs once you pass or if you become unable to care for yourself;
- Who should receive family heirlooms and other meaningful possessions;
- How any young children will be provided for;
- Your wishes regarding healthcare and resuscitation if you become incapable of expressing your desires; and
- Other concerns regarding care for your family or distribution of your assets.
The estate planning process, then, is simply the steps that lead to the creation of the legal documents necessary to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Depending on the number of your heirs – those who stand to inherit your property upon your death – and the size of your estate, the estate planning process can be very short or can involve several visits with an estate planning attorney.
What Documents Does My Estate Plan Consist Of?
Your estate plan will consist of a document or combination of documents that is necessary to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Your estate plan may consist of:
- Wills, which name an administrator or executor and direct how your assets are to be distributed once you pass.
- Trusts, the most common of which is a living trust, are legal entities to which you “give” your assets to during your lifetime and at death. A trustee oversees the administration of the trust and the distribution of assets to whom you name as beneficiaries of the trustee. Trusts are popular because of the tax benefits they provide to some individuals.
- Health care directives (also known as “living wills”) inform doctors and hospitals of your wishes concerning health care decisions like resuscitation, life support, and feeding tubes if you are somehow unable to give these directions yourself. Health care directives also appoint a person to make health-related decisions on your behalf.
- Powers of attorney give a trusted friend or family member authority to manage your financial, business, or other affairs if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage these on your own.
Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
“Do-it-yourself” will and trust kits are a mainstay at many bookstores. Unfortunately, these resources attempt to deliver a “one-size-fits-all” solution for a very individualized and personal problem. The truth is that your estate plan is unique to you. Only an experienced estate planning attorney can help you craft an estate plan that accomplishes your unique goals and wishes.
Working with an estate planning attorney is a partnership between you (the client) and the attorney. You provide your attorney with information about your family, your heirs, and your assets. You also describe how you would like your assets distributed upon your death, how you would like to be cared for if you are unable to consent to medical treatment, and who should handle your affairs (for example). Your attorney then goes to work crafting the precise documents necessary to accomplish your stated goals.
Your estate planning attorney is also there to advise you of tax laws and other considerations that can cause unexpected and negative consequences if not properly addressed.
Florida Law Firm Shrouder, Karns & Mager, P.A. is Here to Help
Over our firm’s years of existence, we have helped numerous individuals and families in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties create estate plans reflecting their final wishes. This results in peace of mind for both the client and the client’s family as they can now face the future with the confidence of knowing their assets and children are in good, familiar hands once they pass. Contact Shrouder, Karns & Mager, P.A. today at (954) 329-0001 to learn more about your legal options.