Legal Services

Incapacity Planning

Estate planning is not just about planning for what happens after your death. It is just as critical to contemplate what would happen if you no longer have capacity to make your own decisions about your health, your finances or your young or disabled children. We can help you with the documents and planning to make sure that, if you are still alive, but lack capacity, you would have the right people empowered to help you and your family. The goal would be to avoid a court guardianship, if possible. There are many tools that can be employed to ensure that you can retain your dignity despite your incapacity and that your family will not be devastated financially by your sudden incapacity.

Wills and Trusts

We work with clients to develop a customized estate plan, whether it is for an individual or for a married couple. Most estate plans will incorporate a last will and testament and may include one or more trusts. Depending on the client’s individual needs, the trust can be revocable or irrevocable. For example: if a client is trying to avoid probate, then we would probably incorporate a revocable trust unless we choose to structure asset ownership in a way to avoid the probate process without incorporating a trust. There are questions that need to be answered before this kind of decision is made. This planning can be simple or it can include planning for special needs beneficiaries, interests in businesses and asset protection planning to safeguard the assets from creditors (yours and beneficiaries). It is all individualized and often involves multi-generational planning.

Estate Tax Planning

Florida estates do not have to contend with state inheritance taxes; however, every citizen (and some others) are potentially subject to the federal estate tax. Therefore, if your estate is large enough, you need to consider estate tax planning to save your family money after you are gone. There are many strategies that we can offer to protect your wealth. Federal estate tax laws are always changing so it is important to work with an attorney who can provide flexible planning options and who knows how to incorporate the flexibility into your documents so they withstand fluctuations in the estate tax rates and exemptions. Estate tax planning may also include charitable planning where a person is so inclined.

Estate Administration and Probate

The planning process is critical while someone is living and has capacity. After the person’s death, the family or close friends will probably require at least a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney to help them navigate the post-death process. Sometimes, it can all be dealt with in a single consultation or a few short conversations and other times it requires a probate to be filed. Where there is a trust, there may be some education required with regard to trust administration. Advice from the beginning is critical to the smooth management of an estate and the distribution of a deceased person’s assets.

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Estate planning involves all of a client’s assets and, therefore, we will assist a client with creating and maintaining entities, including annual minutes, resolutions, registered agent services, and other transactional documents that might be needed to integrate entities into a client’s estate plan.

Estate Planning Maintenance Plan

It is common for people to create an estate plan and then put it away and never look at it again. The goal behind our maintenance program is to keep in contact with clients and do regular reviews of a client’s plan to make sure it always complies with their wishes as well as with tax laws. We invite our clients to take part in this ongoing retainer plan so that their plan is not a just set it and forget it type of plan. One of the goals with the Estate Planning Maintenance Plan is to create a record for the client’s family so they will be able to follow the intentions (the why) behind a client’s planning and to memorialize messages to loved ones. A well-documented plan often keeps a family out of court and out of conflict.

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