Why You Need an Estate Plan

When someone dies in Florida, the law immediately assumes that title to all of that individual’s assets, as well as responsibility for the debts, transfers to their “estate.” By law, your estate is literally created the instant you pass to insure your property and assets are legally transferred, hopefully according to your wishes.

Without a plan of your own in place, the State has generously agreed to provide their own. Besides not matching your desired outcome, this is likely the most expensive way to transfer your assets.

Your life is not the same as it was two years ago, and neither are the laws or economic circumstances that guided your planning at that time.

How will decisions get made when you are unable? Your obligations do not stop just because you can’t take care of them yourself.

By law, doctors will not release your medical information except to specifically authorized people.  Do the people with authority to make medical decisions for you have access to that information?

We all love our children, but not all of them can handle their money.  Under State law, under-age children are given guardians to handle their finances.  But your adult heirs are given no such protection, and proper planning is vital to protect your estate, and protect your heirs from themselves.

There are only certain types of assets that, if not subject to a trust, can change hands without probate. Everything else is subject to the expense and the proceedings of the probate court.

Once your assets have been distributed, they are fully the property of the beneficiary, and thus subject to pay your beneficiary’s debts.  Is that what you want them to use it for?

Without proper planning, and especially when you each have children from other relationships, poorly considered planning can lead to unanticipated and undesired results.

You are provided with the opportunity to pass assets to your spouse (marital exemption-unlimited!), to anyone at death (estate tax exemption), or anyone during life (gift tax exemption). Does your plan maximize the value that they provide?

If you answered anything but YES to any of these questions, you should make an appointment to speak with an attorney and review your estate planning.