Florida estate planning is comprised of more than simply writing a last will and testament and leaving the rest to the people you leave behind in the event of your death. There is actually much more that goes into proper estate planning which is why we always discourage trying to tackle estate planning without the assistance of an estate planning attorney. Today we want to talk about a few areas of estate planning that Florida estate planning attorney Matt Weidner can help you with.
Florida Estate Planning Matters Weidner Law Can Help You Tackle
Writing You Last Will and Testament
While it’s not the only area of estate planning that you need to address, writing your last will and testament is a critical part of the estate planning process. For a last will and testament to stand up in a court of law it must meet specific legal criteria that are established by each state. Most people don’t think about this fact when they write their own will – in fact, most people don’t even realize that there are legal requirements in order for a will to be considered valid!
Hiring a reputable estate planning attorney ensures that your last will and testament meets all of these requirements. An attorney can also help you to review your last will and testament thoroughly to ensure that you have covered every eventuality and every item you want to be covered.
If you are a parent, guardianship is another critical consideration when it comes to planning your estate. A guardian is someone who you appoint to care for your children should something happen to you and you are unable to care for your children yourself. Appointing a guardian may seem simple enough, but it’s actually a rather complex issue. Your attorney will be able to help you to decide on who would make a suitable guardian and ensure that the right paperwork and research into the background of a person is done so that no complications will arise if the guardian ever has to step up to care for your children.
What most people don’t know is that even if your will names a guardian for your children, the court can overrule your guardian choice if they feel that your choice is not in the best interest of the children. This may seem unfair, but it is actually a safety mechanism in place to ensure that your children receive the best of care should you be unable to provide that for them. For example, imagine that you wrote your will when you first got married to a woman who would become your children’s stepmother and you named her as the guardian to your children in your will. Now imagine that six months later you are on your deathbed from a mysterious illness and when you succumb to that illness it’s discovered that your new wife had been slowly poisoning you. Should the court still uphold your wishes for that same woman to take guardianship of your children? Yes, it’s an extreme example, but it makes the point quite well.
Setting up Trusts
Setting up a trust is complicated and generally not something that the average person can do without legal guidance. A trust is an arrangement whereby a third party manages assets for a beneficiary. There can be many reasons for setting up a trust, for example, if a child is a minor or has special needs and cannot be responsible for their inheritance. In this situation, a third party would be appointed as the trustee and they would be in charge of managing the inheritance for the minor or special needs individual.
There are many different types of trusts and each has it’s own rules and regulations depending on the state where they are set up. Having an estate planning attorney on your side means that you can be sure that you are using the right kind of trust for your purposes and that you are abiding by all legal guidelines when setting the trust up so there are no surprises later on.
Estate Tax Planning
An estate tax is sometimes referred to as a type of “death tax” that is assessed on your estate at the time of your death. In the state of Florida inherited property does not count as income for income tax purposes BUT there is a federal tax that should be addressed if the estate meets certain qualifications. Additionally, there are some special circumstances in which taxes should be paid on an inheritance. Since there are so many “nitty-gritty details that pertain to the specifics of estate taxes and inheritance taxes, it’s always best to consult a reputable attorney who is familiar with state and national inheritance laws.
If you plan on making charitable contributions upon your death, it’s also worth consulting an estate planning attorney to ensure that your charitable giving is done to your specifications. An attorney can also help to explain to you the different types of charitable giving options that you can take advantage of, for example, making a gift at the time of death through a will or trust or setting up a charitable gift annuity.
Small Business Planning
Another important consideration when planning your estate is to make the necessary accommodations for your small business if you are a small business owner. With different types of business entities and different estate planning laws for each state, consulting a reputable small business planning estate planning attorney is a must.
Do You Need Florida Estate Planning Help?
If you need the help of a reputable estate planning attorney in Florida to ensure that you have planned your estate properly attorney Matt Weidner can help! Just pick up the phone and call Weidner Law at 727-954-8752 or submit an online request for more information on how Weidner Law can help you!