Thinking About Estate Planning?
Thinking About Estate Planning? Now It’s Time To Do It | Written By: Nadia Phanco, Esq.
With the Holiday Season approaching, the concept of “Family” is in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. You may be considering planning your trip or spending more time on Pinterest exploring those unique and yummy recipes. However you plan to spend this Holiday Season, one thing is very clear, no matter where you travel to, or what wonderful dishes you prepare, the memories and bonds you create with your family this Holiday Season will outshine everything else.
Family means everything to us here at Glenn and Phanco, P.A. We understand the very importance of protecting and also planning for your family and their needs. Life can be very hectic and while you may have put a lot of thought into Estate Planning, often that very important “to-do” project gets lost among the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
But Estate Planning is important. It can be crucial for your family to have in place a plan that embodies your vision. You may have thought about creating a Will or Trust, and we would like to offer some insight into the differences and benefits of both, as well as why it is so important to have either one in place.
What happens if you do not have a Trust or Will in Place
If you, your significant other, or spouse passes away in the State of Florida without either document in place, the Florida Statutes will dictate how your assets and property will be distributed. This is also known as dying “intestate” and will be handled in probate court. Assets not subject to probate court include, but are not limited to, payable on death bank accounts, property owned as tenants-by-the-entirety, property held in multiple names, retirement funds, annuities, and of course life insurance policies.
While the Statute is very clear and well written, it can often take a very long time for the summary probate administration to be completed. The time it takes for its completion is often the most difficult and sensitive time for a family and therefore having a Will or Trust in place can be very beneficial. Because the requirements of having a valid Will or Trust are so specific, it is also therefore imperative that you create the document correctly, satisfying all elements to ensure its validity.
Trust versus Will
A Will is often designed to assign a person upon your death who will manage your estate, distribute your assets, and distribute your property. One of the most distinct features between a Will and Trust is that a Will passes through probate court, while a Trust does not. The formalities associated with a Will are testamentary in character and may be revocable throughout your lifetime. Some of the common requirements to ensure the validity of an enforceable Will are that you must be of “sound mind” and at least 18 years of age. The signature requirements spelled out in the Florida Statutes are also very clear; in order for a Will to be valid, you must sign the document in front of two witnesses and they in turn must also sign the Will in your presence. Failing to adhere to some of these requirements can make the Will invalid and your estate will be distributed in probate court in accordance with the Florida Statute intestate successions.
As previously mentioned, a Trust on the other hand does not pass through probate court. It is also often more time efficient and can prevent your financial affairs and assets to be become a matter of public record. While there are differing “types” of Trust’s, the most common is known as an “Express Trust,” which is considered revocable, unless it explicitly states “irrevocable.” A Trust is designed to allow you to manage your assets and property during your lifetime, as well as plan for the distribution of your remaining assets and property after your death. Another advantage of having a Trust over a Will, is that you can appoint a Trustee to manage your estate rather than having the court appoint a guardian in the event you become incapacitated. Some common requirements to ensure the validity of a Trust are that you must be of “sound mind,” have an “intent” to create a trust relationship, assign a competent trustee, and have named beneficiaries.
There is never an easy time to start planning and preparing for your death. What is important is that a plan is in place and that the protections you envision for your family will be honored. This Holiday Season we encourage all our readers to commit to finally putting in place a plan. Whether that be the creation of a Will or Trust, a plan to update an outdated document, or whether it’s simply taking the time to discuss the future with your loved ones. Because Glenn and Phanco, P.A. care so much about the protection of your family, we invite you take advantage of our “Holiday Season Estate Planning Offer” for the very low price of only $750.00 (a 55% discount of our normal rates), to give yourself and your family the best gift of all this Holiday Season…Piece of Mind. Please contact our office through the end of this year for this exclusive offer. We wish all our readers a very happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season!
This article is not intended to provide advice or legal information.