Florida Estate Planning

Most people plan their lives with long-term goals and milestones like marriage, buying a house and having children. However, some of the most important planning you'll ever do is for what happens after you die. Who will inherit your estate? Who will be responsible for paying your final debts and taxes? If anything should happen to you before you die, who will take care of your children?

There are many tools to help you with estate planning in Florida. Whether you live in Miami, Orlando or Tampa, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo's Florida estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family's future and connect with a qualified local attorney.

Florida Wills

In Florida, you can ensure that the people you want get the property and financial assets you leave behind when you die by making a will (also known as a Last Will and Testament). You can assign specific beneficiaries to your will like family, friends or charities. Along with distributing your wealth and property among your beneficiaries, you may also specify who will be responsible for paying any taxes on your estate in your will.

There are only several requirements in Florida if you, the testator, wish to make a will:

  • You must be 18 years or older and of sound mind when signing the will.
  • The will must be written and signed by you and witnesses.
  • The will must be notarized.

Certain assets may not be distributed according to your will, such as life estates, homesteads and properties owned jointly by spouses and subject to survivorship rights. The distribution of other assets that are governed by legal documents like living trusts or life insurance policies cannot be governed by your will, either.

Florida Revocable Trusts

Another way to manage your assets in Florida is through a revocable trust. When you transfer your assets to a revocable trust, you may assign control to another person, trust company or bank (the "trustee") or designate yourself as the trustee. This way, you or your trustee can manage your assets during your lifetime while still benefitting from them. Then, when you die, your remaining assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries.

With a revocable trust, you can avoid the costly probate process of having a court approve the transference of property. Some property distributed through a will may be subject to probate, but since you can transfer your property to a trustee during your lifetime, probate is unnecessary.

Florida Health Care Advance Directives

In the event of your incapacity to make health care decisions as a result of a medical condition or death, a health care advance directive can ensure that your wishes are followed. There are three kinds of directives you may use in Florida:

  • Health Care Surrogate Designation—Using this directive, you can assign another person as your designated medical decision maker.
  • Living Will—You can make an oral or written statement about the healthcare you may or may not want when you become incapacitated.
  • Anatomical Donation—With this directive, you can decide whether you want to donate part or all of your body for medical or training purposes after your death.

You may choose any number or combination of these three advance directives to suit your needs.

Speak to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified estate planning lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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