Did you know that research tells us that less than half of all Americans have an estate plan in place?  Estate planning takes careful time and consideration. You need to decide what you would want to have happen if you no longer have the capacity to care or make decisions for yourself and what should happen when you pass away. Be aware that when you decide to not only protect yourself but those you love most, you are giving yourself and your family the peace of mind that can only come from a comprehensive Florida estate plan. 

When we meet with our clients we find that their main goals for creating a Florida estate plan centers on the fact that they want to ensure their families will not face:

  • Conflict within the family,
  • Public knowledge of their personal affairs, 
  • Additional costs and expenses,
  • Unexpected or required court involvement, and 
  • Uncertainty during the grieving process.

Unfortunately, though, what we have to explain to our clients is that a Florida last will and testament will not be enough to protect them from probate. We understand this does not seem logical because a last will and testament should be able to have your estate avoid any future involvement from the courts, creditors, or others at the time of your death, right? It should but, sadly, the probate process is all but assured when you only have a will as a part of your estate plan.

The purpose of your last will and testament is to provide a set of instructions. These instructions relate who should inherit from you, how they should inherit from you, and the manner of this inheritance. Your last will and testament will also nominate the trusted person you want to be in charge of the process. That being said, it does not take your estate assets out of your name. This means that legal ownership will be determined, with the guidance of your will, through the probate process. The probate process is, unfortunately, costly, time intensive, and public. Your Florida last will and testament will not be able to avoid this process at the time of your death.

So, is there a way you can plan forward to avoid the probate process? Yes, the Florida estate planning answer is to create a Florida trust agreement. Using your trust agreement you can “fund” or retitle your assets into the name of this Florida estate planning tool to be held and administered in the way you see fit. This ensures that at the time of your incapacity or death these assets can be held under the management of the trustee you choose and avoid court involvement of any kind. There are many different kinds of Florida trust agreements that can be created to meet your needs and reach your goals for your legacy. We highly recommend that you meet with your Florida estate planning attorney so she can assist you in creating the best trust for you. While there is an administration at the time of your death or incapacity, it is not the same as the court process you would encounter without this essential Florida estate planning tool in place. 

Our office can help guide a family through long-term care planning for aging parents and loved ones. At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.