Estate planning is a powerful tool that everyone can use. It gives you control over what happens to your real estate, finances (including checking accounts, savings accounts, and investments), life insurance, and all of your possessions in the event of your death or incapacitation. Estate planning helps people across income and wealth levels ensure their wishes are carried out and includes the preparation of a Last Will and Testament, among other key documents and actions.
Estate planning is a proactive measure you should take regardless of your age. It is something that many people think is for when you are retired, but, unfortunately, you can’t control when you are going to need a Last Will and Testament and other protections.
Why is estate planning important?
It not only gives you the decision-making power of what happens to your estate when you’re gone, but it also relieves your loved ones from heavy burdens and tough, emotional decision-making during a time of grief and loss. It is one of the most considerate and thoughtful things you can do for them.
Estate planning can also save a lot of time and money by having clarity across your assets and possessions, avoiding potential legal issues such as rancorous family lawsuits.
Additionally, estate planning is important for anyone who has minor children. If something happens to you, you need to make sure your child(ren) is being cared for and raised by the people you choose and not leave the decision up to the state.
What to Expect with an Estate Planning Lawyer
When working with an estate planning lawyer, you can expect to have discussions regarding a Living Will and Testament, the selection of the personal representative for your estate, and develop a plan for the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries, including real estate and personal property. Estate planning in FL also includes discussions about medical and financial power of attorneys, living wills, and trusts.
It can be challenging to decide on a guardian for your young children. Your estate planning lawyer can speak to the various elements involved in making this all-important decision too.
Your First Visit
At your initial consultation, you will have a meeting with an attorney so they can learn about you and your estate planning needs. This visit also gives you important information about the attorney, how they work and communicate, and helps you determine if they are the best estate planning attorney for you.
Documents to Have Ready
Each person’s circumstances are different, but here are some of the types of documentation that you should have ready for your consultation:
- Financial statements, including checking, savings, IRA, brokerage, money market statements, etc.
- Most recent account statements from your retirement, investments, and bank.
- Copies of your retirement plan and life insurance plan
- Deed to your house and any additional properties
- Pre- or Post-nuptial agreements and divorce agreements
- Any business agreements
- Contact information of your doctors and family members
- A list of people you are considering for executors, trustees, etc.
It is also helpful to write down a list of questions you may have, as well as your overall estate planning goals.
Benefits of Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
There are many benefits of hiring an estate planning attorney. They help you minimize taxes and court costs and provide the legal advise needed in varying types of complex situations to ensure wills, trusts, and other necessary legal documents and arrangements are prepared and completed properly.
This includes situations in which you need legal documentation/arrangements:
- If you cannot work due to illness or injury, providing arrangements for disability income insurance to replace your income
- If you become incapacitated before you die, detailing instructions for your care and financial affairs
- For long-term care insurance in the case of an extended injury or illness
- For life insurance to provide for your family at your death
- To name a guardian for your minor children’s care and inheritance
- To fund assets into a living trust
- To provide for a transfer of your business if you become disabled and are unable to work, or if you become incapacitated or die
- If you have family members with special needs, providing for them without disqualifying them from government benefits
- To designate or update beneficiaries
- To align your overall assets with your estate plan
When you are trying to understand how to hire the best estate planning lawyer, do not be afraid to ask questions. At Golden Key Law, we encourage questions and ensure you have the information you need to make critical decisions about your estate. We discuss the pros and cons of different estate planning options, including the differences between a trust versus a will. We are also skilled in dealing with the State of Florida Probate Court and can assist you throughout the probate process from start to finish if your Last Will and Testament needs to be filed.
The best estate planning lawyers will be knowledgeable, responsive in their communications, and listen carefully to your specific situation to help determine the extent of your estate planning needs.
Where to Start When Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney
It is never too early to start looking for an estate planning attorney. The unexpected happens all too often – and loved ones can be put in very difficult circumstances. The best time to look for an estate planning attorney is now.
How Golden Key Law Can Help
Our attorneys at Golden Key Law are dedicated to giving our estate planning clients the best benefit of all — peace of mind.
We want to ensure you have a properly prepared plan in place that represents your wishes and protects your loved ones. Without a will or a trust, some of the decisions that will need to be made will be left for the state to decide.
Whether you have a large or a modest estate, you should be able to make these decisions. Estate planning allows you to do this. We are here to help.
Give us a call today for a free consultation.