- Healthcare Documents
- Powers of Attorney
- Divorce and Child Custody
A Will is a legal document whereby your last wishes can be carried out. A Will is necessary if you don't want State Statutes to dictate how your property is distributed upon your death or who becomes the guardian of your children. A Will can also dictate other issues after your passing, such as whether and where you want to be buried or cremated. If you want more control over your assets after death, you can also create a Testamentary Trust in a Will, which is a Trust created through the Will after death.
A Will does not avoid probate. To be enforced, a Will goes through the Probate process, which a judge oversees and ensures that your wishes are carried out. When a person dies with a Will, the Estate is called Testate and the Decedent's Will dictates what happens to the Estate. When a person dies without a Will, the Estate is called Intestate, and State Laws will dictate what happens to the Estate. Please find a link to Florida's Inestacy Statutes here: Chapter 732, Part 1. State Statutes may not conform to your wishes, especially if you are in a blended family.
Everyone already has an Estate Plan, even if they haven't done one themselves - it's the one the State has created for you. Call us at 352-432-8150 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your Estate Planning options.
A trust is basically a contract between three people: the Grantor(Trustmaker), the Trustee, and the Beneficiary. In most cases, the client sits in all 3 seats at the beginning. This gives you complete control over the trust assets, just as you have always had. A very simple trust might read “I, Adam Hendershot, give $5.00 to the Trustee, Adam Hendershot, to hold for the benefit of the Beneficiary, Adam Hendershot.” But your actual trust would have more instruction. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.
Why Have a Trust?
1. A Trust will avoid probate as long as it is properly funded (meaning the Trust owns the property instead of you). Probate fees can be 3% of your Estate and even higher in some circumstances.
2. You can set up trusts which will protect your beneficiaries' inheritance from their creditors or from future divorce.
3. Protect yourself during incapacity. Your Trust can work as financial protection in case you become mentally incapacitated due to illness or disease by naming someone you trust to manage your assets while you are incapacitated. This helps avoid guardianship/conservatorship proceedings over your finances.
4. You can control your assets during your lifetime and control how they are managed after death if so desired.
5. If you have a large Estate, a well thought out Trust and total Estate Plan can save on taxes.
6. You can help protect your spouse from creditors and financial predators after you are gone.
If you are interested in learning more about Trusts and finding out whether they would be right for your Estate Plan, please call us at 352-432-8150 to set up a free and confidential consultation.
Essential Healthcare Documents
Designation of Healthcare Agent
A Designation of Healthcare Agent/Surrogate, also called a Healthcare Power of Attorney, is a document in which you designate an agent, who is someone you trust, to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so (because of unconsciousness, mental incapacity, etc.).
A Living Will, or Advance Healthcare Directive, is needed if you want to state directly to the attending physicians what would happen to you if you are in a vegetative state or during other health complications where your life is at stake. This is a way to make decisions for heart-wrenching circumstances before they happen so that your family is not burdened with the responsibility or guilt of making those decisions themselves.
This is a document which is authorized under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and ensures that trusted designees have access to medical information when and if they need it.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document where you grant someone else control over financial assets or other property. There are limited Powers of Attorney that can grant power for a limited purpose and limited time. There are also general powers of attorney that grant control over all financial assets. General Durable Powers of Attorney will grant someone else control over your assets, even during incapacity, and is another way besides Trusts to allow someone to take care of your finances during your incapacity. The downside to Durable Powers of Attorney in Florida is that they cannot be contingent on incapacity before they become effective. This means that Durable Powers of Attorney must be immediately effective, meaning that any Agents you designate immediately have power over the designated assets or property. This means you must be extremely careful and must understand the benefits and advantages of this document before signing one.
Probate is a court-supervised proceeding that winds up a deceased persons affairs and passes the Estate to the heirs or other beneficiaries. The probate process takes an inventory of the assets and debts in the estate. The Debts are generally paid off, the Probate court costs and other fees and expenses are paid, and then the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs or others named in a Will.
The Probate process can be simple and take only a few months or it can be complicated and some cases have even taken years. This can especially occur if there are Will Contests or other contentious proceedings involved.
There are several legal rules and requirements including notices that must be sent out and important dates when things must be done by. If you want to read more about the probate process please visit the following link to a consumer pamphlet put out by the Florida Bar: Consumer Pamphlet.
How We Can Help:
Let our experience and knowledge help you through your probate proceeding. If you have questions about Probate, please call us today at 352-432-8150 to set up a free and confidential consultation.
Divorce and Child Custody
These legal issues are some of the toughest in any lawyer’s practice. They involve emotional elements that can be tough for all parties involved. This is especially true when there are children in the mix.
This is why, besides filing necessary legal documents and gathering research in support of your side of the case, it is my job as an attorney to look at your case from an objective standpoint and advise you on the proper courses of action for the issues you face.
You benefit from this objective standpoint by being able to make informed decisions while going through some of the most emotional times of your life.
Through the process, you will learn things you probably didn't know about the law and about yourself.
Once we advise our clients and give them the information they need to make important decisions, we fight for them. We are on their side and if you become a client, we will be on yours.
Why You Need an Attorney
I have seen many people navigate the murky waters of divorce alone. And I can honestly say this is a bad idea. Without counsel, without knowing the rules of evidence, without knowing what documents can be filed and when, without knowing what can and cannot be said or done, I have seen people lose time with their children they could have had or money that could have been used to start a new life. I especially see this when one spouse or the spouses attorney threatens that if they don't sign a particular agreement, usually drafted by the attorney representing the other spouse, then they will get even less in Court.
I have noticed this has been especially true for mothers, who may feel financially isolated and unimpowered to fight for what they believe is right.
I believe a person should never sign an agreement that is so important that it defines your relationship with your children and your share of the assets without at least seeking review by an attorney before signing.
Whether you hire us or another attorney, everyone should have counsel they can rely on.
1. We teach our clients so they are empowered to make informed decisions.
2. We try to learn from our clients, discussing their current motivations, their hopes for the future, and what they wish to accomplish now. This helps us advise on the proper course of action.
3. We fight for our clients' interest. Whether it is in our document drafting, during a phone call, in Court, or while researching or sitting in a mediation, our interest is your interest.