Holiday Celebrations, a New Year and an Estate Plan!

Tis the season for holiday flavored coffees, decorations galore and New Year resolutions.  Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, be sure to also contemplate creating an estate plan for your future.

No matter what stage of life you may be in, everyone needs an estate plan.  Regardless of how much you may or may not own, the goal remains the same: protect the wealth you’ve accumulated for yourself and your loved ones.  Did you know that if you do not have an estate plan in place that your assets will be automatically distributed “per stirpes” and subject to probate?  Per stirpes is as gross as it sounds!  It means you have no control over who will receive your estate, the State does!  Probate, the legal process of proving a Will, will then tie up those assets for a long period of time before your beneficiaries receive their share.  By creating an estate plan, such as a living trust, you are able to avoid unnecessary taxes, control the manner of distribution and provide protection for your beneficiaries against possible litigation, divorce, creditors or bankruptcy.  In fact, there are a variety of estate planning tools that ensure you are providing the most protection for yourself and your family:

  1. Living Trust – allows for your estate to avoid probate (the legal process of determining whether a will is valid) and for you to control who receives what and how they will receive it. A living trust offers ultimate protection for your beneficiaries against the possibility of divorce, litigation, bankruptcy and against creditors.
  2.  Assignment of Property – This document assigns your property to your trust. This includes both real & personal property. A trust is useless if there is no property in it.
  3.  Last Will & Testament – The traditional will that is used upon death to distribute property to beneficiaries, specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children.
  4.  Durable Power of Attorney – This document allows you to designate and authorize someone to legally act on your behalf, in the event that you become incapacitated or otherwise incapable.
  5.  Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – This document outlines important healthcare decisions in advance, and allows for you to appoint a healthcare surrogate to make healthcare decisions for you when you become unable to do so yourself.

Before you bust out your winter boots to go get your Gingerbread Latte and begin making your New Year’s Resolutions, call one of our qualified Estate Planning attorneys for your free consultation at 954-944-2855.  For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please visit our website at http://www.wfplaw.com.

It’s a Wild world. Are You Protected?SM

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