St. Augustine Estate Planning Lawyer

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St. Augustine Estate Planning Attorney

Your estate is made up of your life’s work and your legacy. Everyone who has any assets or real property has an estate, and many people want these assets to bring financial and material benefits to their family and loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you do this.

Estate planning is beneficial for many individuals and families. An estate plan allows you to have control over your estate and names the beneficiaries of your assets when you die. When you create a complete estate plan, you can help your loved ones avoid the lengthy probate process and ensure that they receive the maximum benefits. An estate plan is only useful if it is legally enforceable and properly addresses your goals. When you work with a St. Augustine estate planning attorney, you can feel confident that your estate plan can match your individual needs.

The Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A.: Planning for Your Future

No two estates are the same, and no two approaches to estate planning will be identical. At the Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., we understand how to tailor an estate plan to your individual circumstances, estate, and beneficiaries. An estate plan can:

  • Enable your family to avoid probate court.
  • Benefit the individuals and organizations that you want to aid.
  • Protect your interests at the end of your life.

Our attorneys have 20 years of experience serving the community in the St. Augustine area, and we are proud to help families and individuals create legally enforceable and clear estate plans that carry out their wishes. Estate planning can be complicated, but we have the knowledge to help you with these delicate issues, allowing you to feel confident about the future.

Goals for Estate Planning

The primary goals for different individuals creating estate plans include:

  1. Protecting their assets and estate while they’re alive
  2. Listing the distribution of their assets after death
  3. Providing benefits to their loved ones
  4. Keeping the majority of their estate out of probate court
  5. Providing instructions and legal authority for their medical and financial care if they become incapacitated
  6. Limiting the impact that taxes and court costs have on estate benefits

Why Avoid Probate?

Specific documents in an estate plan allow you to avoid the process of probate court. Probate is a time-consuming and expensive process that your family will have to endure if you die without a comprehensive estate plan. Probate administration will identify the assets in the estate, pay creditors, and divide assets among heirs based on a will or inheritance laws. This process could take months or years. Your family will not be able to benefit from your estate while it is in probate court, and a portion of the estate will be lost to federal estate taxes, court costs, and creditor claims. Probate is also a public affair, and your estate and benefits to your assets will become public record.

By keeping most of your estate out of probate, you can limit the time and stress that your family is under while they are grieving your loss. You can also ensure that they receive the most benefits possible from your estate.

Creating an Estate Plan in St. Augustine

The specifics of an estate plan vary based on your needs, the size and requirements of your estate, and your wishes for asset protection and asset distribution. When you discuss your goals for your estate with an attorney, they can determine what documents fit your needs to help you pass on your estate. A comprehensive estate plan generally includes most of the following documents:

  1. A Will
    Your will lists the assets in your estate and how you want them to be distributed after your death. It will also appoint an executor to oversee this distribution and name a guardian for any minor children you have. Without a will, or with a will that is found to be invalid, the state will distribute your assets in probate court according to intestacy law. State inheritance law may not be how you want your assets distributed.

    Unlike other estate planning documents, creating only a will does not allow your estate to avoid probate court. Your will is a public document, and the assets will pass into probate after your death.

  2. Trusts
    There are multiple types of trusts, and they are all legal entities that hold assets, protecting them during your life and after your death. Like a will, a trust can determine the beneficiaries of the assets in your estate. However, a trust can avoid probate court. When you create a revocable trust, you can name yourself as the trustee, ensuring that you have complete control over the assets. When you die, the person you name as the successor trustee becomes responsible for the assets in the trust, keeping them out of probate.
  3. Powers of Attorney
    A power of attorney document allows you to name an individual to make certain decisions on your behalf, such as a friend, family member, or professional. Although few people like to think about it, many people become incapacitated as they near the end of their life. Powers of attorney assign someone you trust with the legal authority to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf if you are incompetent or incapacitated.

    If you become incapacitated without powers of attorney, your loved ones will have to petition the court to make important decisions or actions, such as paying bills or selecting healthcare facilities. This can take significant time and money, especially if different family members are disputing over who should receive that authority.

  4. Advance Directives
    Advance directives, or a living will, list your wishes for medical care if you can’t make those decisions. This may include where you will receive healthcare and what medical procedures or actions you allow. These documents ensure that you are treated the way you want if you become incapacitated.

    Advance directives also list a healthcare surrogate, who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf, following the guidelines of the advance directives.

Experienced St. Augustine Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning may be overwhelming, but a knowledgeable attorney has experience drafting and creating a legally enforceable and beneficial estate plan. When you need to plan for the future or want to protect your assets, contact the Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., and let us help you create an estate plan to address your needs.

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