Many people think of tons of assets when they hear the word “Estate.” Not every estate is huge. Every person has an estate that consists of any assets you own. Even if you have a bank account and one car, you have an estate. If you become incapacitated or die, regardless of age, your estate must go through probate if you don’t have an estate plan. Florida probate laws are complex, which means that if you try to handle a loved one’s estate yourself, you could end up costing yourself more money. Estate planning attorneys can help you set up an estate plan that protects your assets in the event you become incapacitated or die. This is just one reason to hire an attorney for estate planning.
1. Tax Reduction Strategies
With probate, the government collects taxes on estate worth over a certain amount. An estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that minimizes the taxes due. Factors that affect taxes include:
- The gross estate value.
- Expenses incurred during the estate settlement.
- The debt you owe at the time you die.
- The deductions your estate can take.
The Internal Revenue Services figures estate taxes on the estate’s net worth – gross minus expenses, debt, spousal transfers via a trust, and charitable donations. If the estate tax exemption is larger than the net value of the estate, you most likely won’t have to pay taxes.
2. Preventing Fighting in the Family
When someone dies, family members inevitably start fighting over who gets what, especially if you decide to leave more money to one family member over another or leave a family member out of your Will. When you clearly define who gets what, you can minimize the risk of a contested probate case. Creating trusts (you can have more than one) also minimizes family squabbles, especially when you have children as a result of more than one marriage or relationship.
3. Avoiding Costly and Lengthy Probate and Publicity
If you die without a Will, the state determines who receives your assets. You have no choice in the matter. An estate plan ensures that your wishes are met. It also reduces the length of the probate process and can keep the public out of your business. Wills are public documents filed with the probate court. However, Florida does not require you to file a trust. If you put all your assets into a trust, the public does not know what you have. Probate attorneys at France Law can help you create an estate plan to avoid this lengthy and costly process.
4. Planning for Unexpected Incapacitation
An estate plan isn’t only for your death. If you become incapacitated because of an illness or accident, your assets are at risk. The court could appoint a guardian you don’t agree with or someone that would steal from you. Creditors could put liens on your assets.
An estate plan consists of several documents, including a Will, trusts, financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, parenting plans if you have minor children, a living will, and more. These documents ensure that those you choose to care for you and your assets are those you trust.
Trust France Law Firm With Your Estate Planning
Estate planning attorneys customize documents that are tailored to your specific needs. When you opt for the do-it-yourself version, you get fill-in-the-blank documents that will most likely not meet your needs unless you have a very basic estate. However, even if you are younger and don’t have many assets, you will most likely acquire assets over time.
Each time you purchase another asset, such as a home or another vehicle, you get married, increase your savings, and make other life choices; an estate planning attorney can easily update your estate plan to ensure you are protected in the event of an unexpected accident or illness.
Contact an estate planning attorney at France Law for an estate planning consultation.