In Florida, the estate planning process should not be limited simply to will drafting and testamentary transfers. Our attorneys in Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Naples can assist you in tailoring a plan that meets your needs.
Before your meeting with your attorney you should take some time to think about what do you have and where do you want it to go. Each person’s estate plan is unique but ultimately the starting point is that consideration since the principle purpose of estate planning is the disposition of assets in some form or another.
Once you have taken an inventory of your assets, you need to think about where do the assets go and how. In Florida, without a will or other testamentary planning, your assets pass to your natural heirs. Your natural heirs are your spouse, children or close family depending on certain factors. If you are satisfied with Florida’s statutory scheme of descent, then perhaps no formal planning documents are necessary. To be sure, you will need to consult an attorney and see how your unique family situation will be affected by Florida law.
Once you have determined who would you like to receive your property upon your death, then you need to decide how will you actually make this happen. A common misconception that we hear on an almost daily basis is that absent a will, the state will take your assets. So, the answer to the question, “do I need a will” or “will the state take my money if I don’t have a will” is: No. Florida law anticipates that most people will not execute a will, and so there is a statutory process for your assets to pass to your legal heirs without a will. But what if you want to deviate from Florida’s statutory scheme of descent? Well, then you do need a will or some other testamentary device.
The ultimate goal in all estate planning situations is to fulfill your wishes for the disposition of your estate in the simplest and most risk-free manner possible, while minimizing tax liability and insuring liquidity in the estate. However, each person’s circumstances are different, making it is impossible to set forth a rigid formula that applies in all cases. We must analyze your situation carefully in order to custom craft a plan that is suited specifically to your needs.
We can help you with the following:
- Asset protection planning
- Charitable planning
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Eldercare law
- Estate planning
- Estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning
- Family business succession planning
- Guardianship administration
- Income tax planning
- Living wills, durable powers of attorney and health care powers
- Premarital agreements
- Probate administration
- Probate, trust, and guardianship litigation
- Trust administration
- Wills and trust preparation