Wills & Trusts
Tampa Wills & Trusts Attorney
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Protect yourself and the next generation by making your intentions clear. Wills, trusts, and estate law (collectively known as "estate planning") are services that everyone needs, not just the wealthy or the elderly. An estate plan is a vital collection of legal documents designed to clearly specify and give legal effect to an individual’s decisions regarding difficult medical and financial choices that arise throughout a lifetime and upon passing. Protect yourself and your family today.
A will is a document which specifies how the assets of a deceased person (the decedent) are distributed. Wills require strict observation of formality during the signing process. Wills which do not observe these strict formalities are void. Florida residents should sign their will in the presence of at least two witnesses. Someone who is making a will is known as a testator. Wills signed in the presence of a notary public are self-proving. Self-proving wills can be introduced to probate after the death without requiring the witnesses to validate the document.
A living will is a written statement detailing the type of care you want (or don’t want) if you were to be incapacitated. Usually, living wills establish the types of life-prolonging medical care and palliative care (pain relief) that is desired. DNR orders can also be established.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
As described below, a durable power of attorney for healthcare specifies someone you trust to be your health care agent and empowers them to make medical decisions for you if you were ever incapacitated. This is always a good thing to establish especially for ever more common non-traditional family arrangements.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows one person (the principal) to give another person (the agent or attorney in fact) the power to sign documents, write checks, and carry out other official acts for them. The difference between a durable power of attorney and a typical power of attorney is that the durable power of attorney survives incapacitation by the principal and can sometimes avoid a guardianship.
Revocable Living Trusts
A living trust is an estate planning tool which requires an agreement between three parties, the settlor (grantor who puts assets into the trust), the trustee, and the beneficiary. The trust will specify rules which the trustee must apply to administer the trust. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary to carry out the intent of the settlor in a fair and reasonable way. A living trust can be revoked any time during the settlor’s lifetime. There are two main benefits to using a revocable trust
A living trust typically provides that if the grantor is ever incapacitated, the successor beneficiary will automatically take over administration of the estate. What constitutes as incapacity would be set forth in the trust.
Avoidance of Probate
This is the primary benefit of a living trust, as there are little financial benefits to the settlor (grantor) of the trust while they are alive. The primary benefit is to avoid probate and to protect heirs from their creditors. Florida statutes prohibit the use of trusts to avoid the settlor’s (grantor’s) liability for debts, but the creditors of the heirs/beneficiaries would be barred from coming after the trust assets for settlement of those personal debts.