Florida Legal Services
Wills, Trusts, Probate and Medicaid Planning
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- Estate planning means getting your affairs in order
- Before it is too late
- Before death or incapacity occurs
A Will is a written instrument that provides for the disposition of your estate when you die. It directs who receives your property, when and how they receive it and in what proportions. It names your executor and it names the guardian of your minor children. A Will can be revoked or changed at any time during your lifetime. A change to a Will is called a “Codicil” and requires the same formalities as a Will. Illinois law sets out several requirements that must be strictly followed in the making of a Will:
- The person who makes a Will must be 18 years of age or older.
- The Will must be in writing.
- The Will must be signed by the person who makes it and it must be witnessed and signed by at least two persons in the manner required by law.
A trust is a legal entity (a holding device), effective either during lifetime (an intervivos or living trust) or at death (a testamentary trust), which transfers property to someone (called the Trustee) for the benefit of a person or persons designated as beneficiary in the trust instrument. There are many different trusts.
Living trust without tax planning:
A living trust is a trust established during your lifetime, rather than at death. Much like a comprehensive will, a properly drafted living trust can provide creditor protection for a beneficiary’s inheritance and in addition, avoids probate if properly funded during the grantor’s lifetime. You can be the trustee of your trust and have full control over trust assets during your lifetime. However, if you become mentally incompetent, a successor trustee (usually your spouse) takes over and manages your trust estate with the same power and authority that you had.
Probate simply means proving your will and settling your probate estate in a court of law. Your probate estate consists of assets that are in your name alone and have no beneficiary designations. Your probate estate does not include a living trust, joint assets, life insurance (naming a beneficiary), retirement plans (naming a beneficiary), or other such assets that are jointly owned or have a beneficiary.
A judge ensures that your heirs are notified, your estate is accounted for, your debts and taxes are paid, and your estate is distributed according to your will. If you have a will your estate is called a testate estate and if you die without a will it is called an intestate estate.
Property Power of Attorney
A property power of attorney is probably one of the most important documents in your estate plan because it addresses issues during life as opposed to death. If you become incapacitated and do not have a Property Power of Attorney in place, your family may be forced to petition a court to be appointed your legal guardian or conservator to make decisions on your behalf. This can be an expensive proposition, easily avoided with a power of attorney.
Health Care Surrogate
Allows you to name someone to receive health information and make all health care decisions for you, in the vent you are unable to do so.
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3632 Land O’Lakes Blvd. #106-4
Land O’Lakes, FL 34639