A will can help ensure that your assets are distributed as you desire to family members or other people, or even to entities like non-profit organizations.
There may be limitations on the distribution of certain property, so it
is often a good idea to have an attorney draft or review your will. The State of Florida provides default rules for the distribution of property upon one’s death, but your desires may differ from the default, and your will might be one way to avoid that default distribution. Our attorneys can help you decide whether a will is an appropriate part of your estate plan, and they can draft your will to help you achieve the results you desire.
Will Substitutes: There are methods other than a will of providing distribution of property upon one’s death. These are often referred to as will substitutes, and examples include designated-beneficiary accounts and life insurance policies. If properly prepared, will substitutes may provide for distribution to a beneficiary outside of the probate process. Our attorneys can help you decide whether a will substitute is an appropriate part of your estate plan.
A trust can be another way to provide for distribution of property after one’s death, or during one’s life. A trust may provide for distribution of property, or even use of property, at the direction of a trustee who follows the terms or instructions contained in a trust instrument. In other words, one might use a trust to provide for distribution over time, or under certain circumstances like educational needs, rather than a distribution all at once. Sometimes a trust can help protect property from a trust beneficiary’s creditors. Our attorneys can help you decide whether a trust is an appropriate part of your estate plan, and they can draft a trust instrument to help you achieve the results you desire.
Trusts for the Care of Your Pet: You might have a beloved pet that you want to ensure is cared for after you are no longer able to provide care. Florida law provides for the creation of a trust for the care of an animal. Our attorneys can help you prepare a trust for the care of your pet.
Probate: Probate is the process of distributing property of the probate estate with approval of a court. Even if there is a will, the instructions in the will for the distribution of property will most likely be carried out through probate. In other words, having a will may not help your survivors avoid probate. Our attorneys can help you understand the probate process and plan for it during your life, or they can help a will beneficiary or a personal representative navigate the probate process.
Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples: Whether you are unmarried by choice or because the law does not recognize your relationship, estate planning can be especially important for you and your partner. The default rules of property distribution without a will may not provide for transfer of property to your surviving partner the way that those default rules do for a surviving spouse. Our attorneys can advise you about ensuring that your wishes are carried out regarding the distribution of property to your partner.