Boca Raton Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning is important for all individuals and families to avoid the stress of major decision-making at the end of life, and to ease the transfer of assets and property to intended beneficiaries. Our Boca Raton estate planning lawyers are accomplished in drafting basic wills and other essential advance planning documents, as well as structuring sophisticated estate plans for those with significant assets. Whatever your situation, we can create an estate plan ideally suited to your needs.
Smart estate planning is necessary to preserve and pass the assets you value to the people you love.
An estate plan encompasses the accumulation, conservation, and distribution of an individual’s property and assets. Some of the instruments we utilize to create thorough and effective estate plans include:
- A will – Your will outlines who will manage the probate process for you, how your assets will be distributed, and, if applicable, whom you want to be nominated guardian of your minor children or other dependents after you die. If you die without a will, the state makes these decisions, often at an added cost to your loved ones.
- Trusts – Trusts are generally used in conjunction with a will to further protect assets and facilitate their transfer. The primary purpose of a revocable trust is to avoid probate, while irrevocable trusts, such as irrevocable life insurance trusts and charitable trusts, are used to shield assets from taxes and creditors, and to help you qualify for government benefits.
- Power of attorney – A power of attorney gives an individual you name the power to handle your financial affairs in the event you become disabled or incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, no one may be able to access your bank account, securities, or other property without lengthy legal proceedings.
- Health Care Surrogate – This document names a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are physically or mentally incapable of doing so on your own.
- Living Will – A living will informs medical personnel whether you want certain life-sustaining procedures if you are in a terminal condition and unable to decide for yourself.
A good estate plan will enhance and maintain the financial and emotional security of individuals and their families.
Through the strategic use of wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney, health care surrogates, living wills, and more, we can design an individualized estate plan that best meets your goals and unique circumstances. With your assets organized, protected, and ready to pass to future generations, you can be confident your loved ones will enjoy the benefit of your life’s work, and your final days will pass with dignity.
Boca Raton Estate Planning FAQs
To get a head start on addressing some of the concerns you may have about creating an estate plan, we’ve tried to answer a few of the most common questions people have about the process. When you’re ready to start working on your estate plan, please contact Schwartz | White to schedule a consultation. From our offices in Boca Raton, we provide estate planning services throughout Palm Beach County.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a written set of instructions (comprised of one, several, or many legal documents) for others to manage and take care of your estate if you become unable to for any reason. The process of creating an estate plan allows you to map the future of your assets, protect the wellbeing and security of your loved ones, and avoid court intervention as much as possible.
Why do I need an estate plan?
Estate plans can help you prosper while you’re alive and pass your assets at death with minimal inconvenience and expense to your loved ones. An estate plan can also help preserve your assets by minimizing exposure to estate and inheritance taxes. For example:
- Powers of attorney and advance directives for a health care surrogate allow you to appoint one or more individuals to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- Wills for married couples may include provisions that make use of both marital and individual estate tax exemptions.
- Parents can designate a guardian for minor children through their wills.
For large estates, limiting the amount of estate tax owed upon death is a good reason to have a comprehensive estate plan—one which may include trusts, charitable planning, or gifting strategies. But for everyone, no matter the size of the estate, estate planning provides a means to deal with uncertainties, provide for the next generation, and protect yourself and your assets.
What happens if I die without an estate plan?
If you die without a will or any other estate planning documents, Florida law has already decided who gets your assets. These laws are called the intestate succession statutes, and they allow a court to choose the guardian of your minor children, distribute your assets according to a hierarchy determined by the Florida legislature, and resolve other issues based on generic legal standards. While these laws attempt to be fair, it’s likely the state will not carry out your wishes in the same fashion as if you had an estate plan.
How will my estate be settled, and who will settle it?
With a valid estate plan in place, your estate will be settled by your personal representative, your successor trustee, or both. If you have a will, your personal representative will take the will through the probate process. If you have a trust, your successor trustee will settle the estate. If you have a will and a trust, both processes will take place.
Talk to an experienced Boca Raton estate planning lawyer today
At Schwartz | White, our goal with estate planning is to get our clients the desired results they deserve and ensure the protection of assets, property, health care choices, and family values. To learn more about creating a customized estate plan to achieve your objectives, please contact our office in Boca Raton today. Our Boca Raton estate planning lawyers assist individuals and families throughout Palm Beach County.