West Palm Beach Estate Planning Lawyer
You have worked hard all your life to care for those you love and to accumulate the assets you now own. Now it is up to you to determine how those assets will be used when you’re gone.
Wealth is only as important as the good that it can do for you, your family, your community, and the world. And though your life must end someday, the good that you can do with the fruits of your labor does not have to end. If you have the foresight to plan for the inevitable, you can determine not only how you want your final days to play out, but how you will leave your imprint on the world. You can continue to care for your loved ones after you’re gone, and you can continue to support the causes that you have cared about in your lifetime by planning for the distribution of your estate today.
It’s something so many of us tend to put off, but don’t delay the important task of estate planning until it is too late. Get started today by calling the law offices of attorney Todd A. Zuckerbrod to schedule an appointment to begin the estate planning process.
Estate planning is a process that requires careful consideration. Although each individual’s needs and goals are different, there are several common elements in an estate plan. These include:
Your will is a document that specifies the division of your property and assets. You have a couple of options – you may choose to distribute your property outright, or you can establish trusts. Creating a will is an essential step of estate planning because it gives you control of how your life’s work is divided upon your death. Without a will, your property and assets will be distributed in accordance with state law, which may not be the way you intended. The state will also appoint an executor, who may or may not be up to the job. This process can take a long time and create stress and confusion to your heirs, as well as possible tax consequences.
A good will includes:
- Appointment of a guardian for any minor children
- Division of property and assets, and;
- Appointing an executor for your estate. Your estate’s executor should be organized, timely, and detail oriented, as he or she will have to comply with deadlines.
Many people choose to establish a living trust instead of dividing their property outright. This gives you the power to control your assets and to name someone to control your assets in the event of your death or incapacity. The beneficiaries you name receive the benefits of your living trust after your passing.
Provisions for Joint Ownership
These provisions allow for a title to automatically transfer to a surviving joint owner upon your death (for example, a house to your spouse).
Creating Designated Beneficiaries for Accounts
Any asset that has a title may have a designated beneficiary – for example, property, cars, retirement accounts, or bank accounts. Establishing designated beneficiary helps minimize the tax impact and allows your beneficiaries to extend the distributions of your account over a number of years. This helps avoid the hassle of probate.
Planning to Avoid Probate
“Probate” is the term for a complex legal process of determining a will’s validity, settling all claims and tax liabilities, paying off creditors, and distributing the remaining assets. Probate can last six to eight months or more. Planning effectively can help you avoid or minimize the effect of probate, so your assets go to your beneficiaries instead of creditors and taxes.
Power of Attorney and Health Contingencies
Lastly, estate planning helps you make tough healthcare decisions when you’re unable to make them yourself. A durable power of attorney, for instance, designates someone to handle your legal affairs in the event of your incapacity. Its effect is immediate.
You may also designate a power of attorney specifically for health care decisions. In this document, you appoint someone to make health care decisions for you in the event you can’t make them yourself. A living will saves your loved ones stress by detailing which lifesaving measures you approve in the event of your incapacity.
Estate planning is essential for anyone with assets or property. For more information on the process, schedule a free initial consultation.
How a Skilled Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help
Here are some of the many ways a good estate planning lawyer can help you:
- By getting to know you and learning what is important to you: Who depends on you, who do you care for, and what causes do you support?
- By conducting a detailed analysis of your assets and goals.
- By carefully drafting the legal documents that will dictate your wishes for the management of your affairs in the event of your incapacity.
- By putting in writing in a binding legal document your wishes for any limitations on the medical care you will receive if you are terminally ill, and appointing a healthcare proxy to make health related decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.
- By protecting your assets from a nursing home, should you spend your last years in one.
- By appointing guardians to care for your minor children if you and their other parent both die or become incapacitated.
- By reviewing with you the need to update beneficiaries on life insurance policies and investment accounts.
- By drafting a Final Will and Testament, if that is the means you choose to distribute your estate.
- By creating trusts for the benefit of your loved ones, including revocable and irrevocable living trusts, special needs trusts, and others that will protect the assets they will receive from creditors, their own cost of long-term care, or even poor life choices.
- By creating charitable trusts to support causes that are dear to your heart.
- By helping you appoint trustees whom you can count on to manages the trusts according to your wishes.
- By determining how you can distribute your assets with the least tax burden to your heirs.
- By avoiding the time and expense of probate.
- By ensuring that all of your estate planning documents are air-tight, preventing legal challenges.
- By periodically reviewing your estate plan to include any changes in your circumstances.
- By keeping abreast of changes in the law that could affect your estate.
- By planning for the care of your pets if you die or become unable to care for them yourself.
Now is the Time to Plan
Call the West Palm Beach law offices of attorney Todd A. Zuckerbrod for the help you need to plan for your own later years and care for your loved ones when you are gone.
It is only human to put off thinking about the eventual frailty and death that are a part of the human condition, but once you have a plan in place for your estate, you can live the rest of your years in comfort. Pick up the phone and call Todd A. Zuckerbrod today for professional, compassionate, and thorough estate planning services.