It’s important to know that your things will be handled according to your wishes once you’re gone. Many people spend much of their lives gathering assets and property. These things will often outlast their lives, and they can be a benefit to their family and loved ones. It’s critical to have a strategy that ensures your property will be distributed as you wish, and a Ponte Vedra estate planning lawyer can help you do so.
The legal team at the Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., can help you put a plan in place that safeguards your property and carries out your wishes.
There are more elements of estate planning than most people in Ponte Vedra, FL realize. Often, the assumption is that estate planning only constitutes creating a will. While a will may be a vital part of an estate plan, the process is much more than that. An estate planning lawyer will certainly assist with drafting a will and ensuring that it is properly designed and meets the legal requirements. For a true estate plan, though, they will need to do much more.
Estate planning lawyers can also help create a trust for assets to be placed in as an alternative to a will. These are often an attractive option for those who would like to avoid some of the downsides of the probate process. When a trust is properly prepared, the assets within that trust are shielded from the probate process and are able to be distributed directly to beneficiaries. Trusts are often an ongoing process, and an estate planning lawyer can assist with modifying them as required.
Another major element estate planning lawyers can help with is tools that are used to address any kind of incapacitation. These include powers of attorney related to your finances and healthcare treatment. We can also assist in creating healthcare directives that ensure your wishes are honored in various situations of incapacity.
Of particular interest to many people are the matters of asset protection and tax planning. People want to ensure that their estate is properly passed on to their heirs and not reduced by taxes and creditors. An estate planning lawyer can help explain what tools are available to minimize the effect of these things.
With all of these different tools and options available, one of the most important things that an estate planning lawyer does is advise on how to make use of all of the tools available. We can work with you to understand your objectives and goals for your estate plan and help develop a strategy that can meet those goals. The more you plan ahead now, the easier the process will be on your family, and the more you can rest assured that your estate will be executed according to your desires.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that estate planning, and therefore your relationship with an estate planning lawyer, is an ongoing process. Hopefully, you will live many more years beyond your initial estate planning. However, the longer you live, the more things change. As you acquire new assets and sell old ones, your estate plan will need to adjust.
Your desires for how those assets should be distributed may also change. Sometimes, new beneficiaries are added, others are removed, or what they are to receive is changed. For these changes to go into effect, your estate plan will need to be updated. Your lawyer will be able to make these changes and ensure that your estate plan is up to date with your latest wishes.
A: The probate process has several disadvantages that lead many people to seek to avoid it altogether through something like a trust. One of these disadvantages is that it can often be a contentious process for a family and beneficiaries because of the complex nature of the process. It can also take quite a bit of time, can expose your assets to financial risks that can reduce the size of your estate, and is a part of the public record.
A: Both wills and trusts serve functional purposes for estate planning. In some cases, an estate plan may just have one or the other. In other situations, there may be a role for both. What’s optimal for your situation is something your lawyer will be able to help you decide.
A: If you don’t have an estate plan, then your estate will be managed and distributed according to intestate rules. These follow a rigid structure, and you will have no say in how the assets in your estate are distributed. Only your closest family members will be able to receive your assets.
A: It is possible to write your own will, but it must be handwritten and signed, and there is no requirement for witnesses or notarization. However, if you write your own will, it may not be structured in a way that ensures your desires are acted upon. It could also be more open to challenges to its validity.
For those who are an integral part of your life, your passing will be a challenging time. It will leave them emotionally vulnerable and grieving. The last thing you want for them in that situation is to go through a long, difficult process of dealing with the estate.
Fortunately, you can do the work now to make things easier for your family when the time comes. A comprehensive estate plan can make the process go much more smoothly for your family and reduce possible places where disagreements and contention could emerge. Contact us to help put together an estate plan that benefits your family. Help Your Family by Having an Estate Plan Ready for When You’re Gone
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