Estates, Trusts, and Probate
We believe that planning your estate well in advance should benefit you and your family. It does not matter what age you are, as something unexpected could happen, leaving your loved ones burdened with the responsibility of distributing your estate in the best way they can.
As estate lawyers, we can provide you with the advice you need to help divide up your assets if you die, or become incapacitated through no fault of your own.
Many people do not know how to draw up a Will and even though it is not complicated it needs to be created in a way that there are no ambiguities in relation to the distributing of your estate. Any doubts in beneficiaries’ minds could lead to unnecessary court battles that divide families who have had good family relationships before the death of a loved one.
A living trust comes under the Florida Trust Code and a Florida resident draws this up during their life to benefit themselves, their spouse, and other people following their death. Florida trusts are laid out in Chapter 736 of the Florida statutes.
There are several parts to this type of trust which are:
- there is the individual who initiates the trust and plans what the living trust agreement contains. This is the trustmaker, settler or grantor.
- the trustee is appointed to administer the assets and makes sure the contents of the trust are distributed in accordance with the wishes of the trustmaker.
- the lifetime beneficiary, who is the trustmaker, settler or grantor has complete access to the income and principal contained in the living trust throughout their lifetime.
A living trust formed for estate planning purposes is entirely revocable both in full or just a part. The trust maker can alter anything in the trust while still alive and mentally able to do so. As soon as the trust maker dies, this living trust is irrevocable, so the beneficiaries of the trust and successor may not change any of the trust’s provisions.
Organizing a living trust is never an easy matter but one of our estates, trusts, and probate lawyers have vast experience dealing with these difficult real-life issues and can navigate you through the difficult decision-making required when you decide a living trust best suits your needs.
Estate planning and the probate court
When a person dies in Florida without a will, their estate is considered “intestate.’’ This typically means there are no clear instructions available for the distribution of property and assets. When this happens the Florida probate court will be involved following a petition from a surviving heir or any other individual(s) who may claim s/he has a right to the estate. The legal proceedings that follow will decide how the estate is to be divided.
If at all possible, the probate court must be avoided as it can be a costly and time-consuming process. When deceased property decisions end up in the probate court, it is the legal system alone that decides how property and assets should be fairly divided not the family left behind. These problems can easily be avoided as long as the proper documentation has been compiled regarding the distribution of your wealth. One of our probate lawyers can work on your behalf so the time and cost is minimized when it comes to the time you need to pass your assets on to your surviving family members.