Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is something done only for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all would like this process to be as seamless and easy as possible to reduce costs, delay and stress for our loved ones. The topic of estate planning, or even one’s mortality is a stressful one to discuss, but an important one. Without proper preparation and documentation, assets—like houses, retirement plans and savings accounts—can end up in limbo for years, sometimes requiring expensive legal assistance to straighten matters out.
Everyone should have the following items in place:
- Living Trust –A trust can be more expensive to set up, but it provides benefits that a will cannot. First, when they’re structured properly, trusts will help avoid probate, which helps beneficiaries gain access to assets more quickly as well as save time and court fees. Depending on how it’s structured, a trust may also reduce estate taxes owed and can protect an estate from heirs’ creditors.
- Assignment of Property – place all of your property into the trust, and avoid costs & headache associated with probate.
- Last Will & Testament – used to distribute property to beneficiaries (or a trust), specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children.
- Durable Power of Attorney – A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows someone else to make financial and legal decisions for a person if that person should become hospitalized, disabled or otherwise incapacitated.
- Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – gain control by making important healthcare decisions in advance.
This will allow you to ward off:
- unnecessary taxes
- costs and headache associated with the probate process
- creditors and outsiders who may have claims against you
- any undesignated individual making legal or healthcare decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated
For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or www.wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation.
It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM