Planning your estate with a Tampa Will and Estate attorney is an important step in protecting your assets, your wishes, and the people who matter to you the most. There are a number of options available, as any estate planning lawyer can tell you. Do you need a will? A trust? Is it possible you don’t need either?
You may think because you don’t have a massive estate, the distribution process would be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, that is not often the case. Instead, your estate, no matter how large or small, will have to go through the probate process and will be distributed according to Florida state law if you pass away without a trust in place.
Generally speaking, your assets will go to your nearest living relative, which could be a spouse, parent, or child. This is, of course, after the probate process has taken place and any number of court and attorney’s fees have been deducted. If no living relatives can be found, it’s likely that all of your assets will become property of the state to do with as it pleases.
As you can see, the government already has an “estate plan” for you; you simply have to determine if it’s the plan you really want. Do you trust the courts to name someone to care for you and manage your affairs in the event of incapacity? Are you comfortable allowing them to determine what should happen to your belongings –or in the case of parents who die with minor children, your family –after you are gone?
If the answer is “NO,” then it’s time to get a will, trust, and other key estate planning documents in place.
Considerations for Wills
If you’re trying to determine the benefits of wills vs. trusts, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
- Wills are often sufficient for those leaving behind less than $150,000 in assets.
- If you want to leave something to a friend, non-registered domestic partner, or organization you support, a will gives you this opportunity.
- A will allows you to choose who will carry out your wishes regarding your estate (the executor of the will).
- If you have dependent children, a will can provide you the opportunity to name their guardians in the event of your death rather than leaving that choice solely to the courts.
- Keep in mind, a will doesn’t keep your estate out of probate, so those costs and the time involved will still apply.
- When your estate goes through probate, all the matters become part of the public record.
Considerations for a Trust
- Those who own a home should generally consider a trust, as should those whose assets are worth more than $150,000.
- Like a will, the trust can usually be revoked or modified while you are still living.
- Unlike a will, however, a trust allows your beneficiaries to skip the probate process.
- Trusts are held private and the details of them are not made part of the public record.
Work with a Tampa Will and Estate Attorney for Best Results
It’s highly recommended that individuals utilize the expertise of an estate planning attorney when determining if you need a will or a trust. This skilled professional will be able to steer you in the right direction, not to mention, he or she will have experience using wills and trusts to reduce estate taxes, set up funds for surviving family members, and conduct charitable giving in a way which reflects your values. By choosing a Tampa estate planning lawyer, you ensure that you are working with someone who is familiar with state and local laws for even better protection.
We are happy to help you get started in creating a will or trust which meets the unique needs of your personal and financial situation. Simply call our law firm at (813) 438-8503 and ask to schedule a consultation.