Estate Planning:

Many people view estate planning as only necessary in the latter and end stages of life.  However, a comprehensive estate plan will not only distribute your assets upon your death, it will help you plan, grow, and protect your assets during your life.   Our process involves an initial consultation to determine your needs and goals, a follow up visit to edit, update, and sign your documents, and the legal work necessary to re-title, fund, or otherwise protect your assets to fit your plan.  We help clients protect assets during life, distribute assets after death, protect loved ones who receive inherited property, and if possible, avoid the burden of probate.

We work with all aspects of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare surrogate designations, advance directives, living wills, and guardianships.  We can provide Medicaid planning strategies, and can help you plan for long-term care.  If you have questions about estate planning, and would like to speak with an attorney, please contact us.

Use this link to access information from the Florida Bar regarding Florida Wills:

Trusts:

Trusts are legal entities in Florida which separate the legal and equitable ownership of property, and which benefit one or more named beneficiaries.  Once a trust is established, property is transferred into the trust, and a trustee manages the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  This process removes the legal ownership of the trust property from the creator of the trust or 'grantor'.  This can have significant tax and liability shielding benefits for the grantor.  The trustee who is given control of the trust property assumes certain fiduciary duties to care for and manage the trust property in accordance with the wishes of the trust creator.

Many trusts allow the grantor to amend or revoke the trust while the grantor is alive.  These instruments are highly flexible in application, and are called 'Revocable Trusts' or 'Living Trusts'.  Some trusts cannot be altered once they are created and funded.  These trusts, called 'Irrevocable Trusts', completely remove assets from the control of the grantor.  These instruments are used more commonly for tax or credit sheltering purposes.  Florida also recognizes several forms of specialized trusts to hold special property, provide income streams, or make charitable contributions.

We work with many types of trusts to help clients structure distributions of wealth, protect minor children or disabled persons, avoid certain tax burdens, and create legacies for their families.  If you have questions about whether a trust might benefit you and your family, or if you need assistance with the administration of an existing trust, please contact us.

Use this link to access information from the Florida Bar regarding Revocable Trusts:

Probate and Estate Administration:

When a person dies owning property in Florida, a judicial proceeding called probate is used to distribute the decedent's property.  Probate is a court procedure, monitored by a judge, that inventories the assets of an estate, pays the decedent's creditors, and distributes the estate in accordance with the decedent's will.  Probate procedures are also used to distribute property even when a person dies without a will.  

Opening probate and administering a Florida estate can be a complex and time-consuming process.  In many cases, Florida courts require an attorney to probate a Florida estate.  We provide complete probate services for estates in Florida, including formal administrations, ancillary administrations, summary administrations, and representation in probate litigation.  Please contact us to determine whether our firm can help you with a probate issue.

Use this link to access information from the Florida Bar regarding Probate:

Probate Litigation:

Sometimes problems arise in the estate planning and administration process.  Unfortunately, these problems can lead to lawsuits regarding: capacity concerns, undue influence, spousal rights, homestead rights, trust administrations, and guardianships.  Our attorneys are very knowledgeable about these issues and have experience representing clients in probate litigation proceedings.  If you would like to speak to an attorney about a problem with the administration of a Florida trust or estate, please use the 'Contact Us' link below.