Sometimes it is a good idea to go back to fundamentals. Many people believe that if you have a will you avoid the probate court process. That is actually not true. Having a will allows you designate which beneficiaries should receive which assets, but the will must still be handled through the probate court. The way to avoid probate court, however, is to set up revocable or irrevocable trusts.
But before getting into the details of trusts and other asset transfer vehicles, it is worthwhile to have a discussion about the basics of why estate planning is something all adults should do. Accordingly, in this article, we are going to discuss the purpose of estate planning. Then, we will cover the various options at your disposal in order to satisfy that purpose.
If, after reading this article, you would like to learn more from one of the prominent West Palm Beach estate planning firms, we welcome you to contact us at Doane & Doane, PA. Call today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.
Why Estate Planning in the First Place?
Estate planning is a way to order your finances and other affairs so that others will know your wishes if you are incapacitated or pass away. Estate planning is not just simply drafting a last will and testament. While a will is certainly an important part of estate planning, it is only one of a number of things that you can use to prepare your legacy.
So, when you are doing your estate planning, you are essentially examining your financial picture – your assets and your needs – and then you create a set of instructions (either in the form of the last will and testament, trust, or other documents) to ensure that your heirs are taken care of in the best way possible. That includes both disposition of property at death as well as planning during your life.
A Set of Instructions Under a Number of Circumstances
Understandably, most of us think of estate planning as the distribution of assets after someone has passed away. Yet, an estate plan actually includes guidance, or a set of instructions, in a variety of circumstances. That means that if you are alive, but unable to make decisions for yourself, an estate plan should include documents that indicate your wishes on medical and financial affairs, basically giving decision-making authority to a relative. Those documents are considered living wills, advanced health care directives, and durable powers of attorney.
With Estate Planning, Where Do You Start?
Virtually all the estate plans that we handle to start with you, as the client, determining who in your life needs your support, and what you would like to do to protect them. Even though it is never fun for anyone to plan things in the event of their demise, it is a thoughtful and responsible thing to do for your loved ones.
In addition, a good motivator for starting your estate plan is to minimize the amount of decision making a probate court needs to do. Indeed, your failure to make an estate plan means that decisions related to how your financial affairs will be handled, and how small children will be cared for, will be made by a court, not an optimal outcome.
You should be aware that the probate process without a will is substantially more complicated and costly. In fact, it is a “pennywise, pound foolish” thing. It makes considerably more sense to spend a little money now to prepare a will and other estate planning documents than to have a large amount of money come out of your estate after you pass away without a will.
Having a Will, and Maybe Even Avoiding Probate Altogether
It is highly recommended that you at least have one of the many experienced estate planning firms prepare a last will and testament for you. Every adult should have one.
In addition, avoiding the probate process altogether is a welcomed goal in the estate planning world. That is because the probate process is long, expensive, and arduous. Thus, avoiding probate as much as possible means lower costs and inheritances going immediately to beneficiaries, rather than making beneficiaries wait, maybe a period of years, before receiving assets.
Trusts Not Just for the Wealthy Anymore
While most of us think that trusts are only necessary for those who are very wealthy. That is no longer the case. Over the last few decades, individuals and families from all income segments have incorporated the use of trusts in their estate planning.
A trust is simply a legal entity that has control over the assets that you place into that trust. When used properly, trusts can be very effective, and you are able to dictate in the trust agreement all of the rules on how it must be administered.
Look to Doane & Doane as One of the Seasoned Estate Planning Firms That Can Help You
Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane & Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.
Estate planning is about much more than just giving away property. It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved one. At Doane & Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys in West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability. Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients. Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.
When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates. Notably, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.
Call us at Doane & Doane, P.A. to help you if you are faced with a probate matter, or if you would like estate planning services in Florida. You can reach us at 561-656-0200. Call us today.