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Commonly Asked Estate Planning & Estate Administration Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page on Estate Planning and Estate Administration in Florida. At Legacy Law Associates, we understand that navigating the complexities of estate planning or being faced with estate administration after losing a loved one can be overwhelming. Our lawyers are here to provide clarity and guidance. From updating your Will after relocation to safeguarding your children’s inheritance, we address your concerns with knowledge and compassion. Explore this page for answers to common questions, or contact our office to discuss your options to protect your legacy and loved ones.

Q: I just moved to Florida. Do I need to update my Will or Trust?

Moving to Florida does not automatically invalidate your out-of-state estate planning documents. Florida typically recognizes your documents if they comply with state laws. Nevertheless, it is crucial to review and update your estate plan regularly. Laws change, family dynamics shift, and assets change hands. If your estate plan has been untouched for years, it may align differently with your current values and wishes. Consider your move to Florida as an opportunity to reconsider and update your estate planning documents and strategy.

Q: What happens if I die without a Will? Does the state take my property?

Contrary to a common misconception, the government does not automatically seize your assets if you pass away without a Will or Trust. However, dying without a Will, known as dying intestate, carries significant repercussions. Without an estate plan, Florida law decides the administration of your estate and asset distribution. Florida probate court will appoint a personal representative to administer your estate, and the assets will be distributed according to Florida’s intestate succession laws. Unfortunately, this may not align with your wishes or intentions. An opportunity to protect and provide for your loved ones may be lost. Families can find themselves disputing over the interpretation of your desires. Moreover, without proper planning, loved ones may incur unnecessary estate administration expenses and estate taxes.

Q: I have remarried. How can I ensure provision for my new spouse while safeguarding my children? 

Second marriages necessitate careful planning to prevent unintended consequences, such as unintentionally disinheriting children from previous unions. Unfortunately, many overlook the importance of updating their estate plans when they have life changes, leading to potential disputes among heirs and legal complications. Recent legislative changes in Florida laws underscore the significance of proactive planning in second marriages. Do not let procrastination jeopardize your family’s future and harmony. Take proactive steps to craft a comprehensive plan that caters to the needs of both your current spouse and your children from previous relationships. 

Q: Is extensive planning necessary when my children get along well?

While good relationships among children are fortunate, unforeseen circumstances can disrupt even the most stable families. Blended families are especially vulnerable to estate challenges and disputes. For instance, a child’s inheritance could be jeopardized during a divorce or legal dispute. Children can forever hold bad feelings toward each other over inheritances. Fortunately, estate planning offers tools to mitigate risks and uphold your wishes.

Q: My spouse is deceased. Can I avoid probate by listing my child as a joint owner on my accounts or property?

While simplifying matters by sharing ownership with a child may seem appealing, it can lead to unforeseen complications and financial risks. Naming a child as co-owner of assets may be helpful, but people need to realize that by doing so, your child’s creditors will have access to your assets. Joint ownership may avoid probate, but many opportunities are lost to protect you and your child from creditors, or bad decisions. Furthermore, you may lose the opportunity to plan how and by whom your assets will be handled should you become mentally incapacitated.

Q: Do I need a Will or a Trust?

Deciding between a Will and a Trust is not solely based on the size of your estate; rather, it hinges on your specific planning objectives. In many instances, both a Will and a Trust are appropriate. A Will becomes effective upon your death, while a Trust offers instructions for posthumous matters and scenarios during your lifetime, such as incapacity. For example, if you become mentally incapacitated, a trust can provide detailed instructions on who is in charge and how they are to handle your affairs. Without these instructions, these decisions may be made for you in a guardianship court. 

Upon death, a trust can facilitate asset transfer to your heirs immediately by bypassing probate, shielding them from potential creditors, and reducing tax liability. While a properly drafted Will may work, trust-based planning often provides more comprehensive solutions. Additionally, trust administration tends to be more cost-effective than probate and offers privacy compared to the public nature of probate proceedings.

Q: If I set up a trust, do I lose control of my assets?

That depends on the type of trust you create. Establishing a Revocable Living Trust allows you to retain full control over your assets while alive and well. You can amend or revoke your trust at any time. Even if incapacitated, you will have retained “control” by proactively appointing individuals to act on your behalf and outlining how your assets will be managed.

 If you create an irrevocable trust, you surrender ownership of your assets and typically cannot modify the trust. The trustee will remain in control of your assets during your lifetime. However, there are advantages to establishing this type of trust, such as qualifying for long-term Medicaid and mitigating estate tax exposure.

Trust Legacy Law Associates in Daytona Beach, Florida, to Guide You through the Process

As you navigate the complexities of estate planning in Florida, it is essential to remember that the decisions you make today can profoundly shape your loved ones’ tomorrow. Proactively maintaining an up-to-date estate plan that reflects the changes in your life is the best strategy for you and your family’s well-being. At Legacy Law Associates, our knowledgeable team is here to provide guidance tailored to your circumstances and goals. To learn more about our comprehensive services for estate planning and estate administration, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Your future and your family’s future deserve the careful consideration and thoughtful planning we offer.

Contact Legacy Law Associates at (386) 252-2531 to schedule a confidential appointment with our estate planning and estate administration lawyers at our Daytona Beach, Florida, office.