Make Sure You’re Ready
Many people seem to have a morbid association with the process of writing a will or planning an estate, and this seems to generate a lot of needless anxiety. So much anxiety, that they put off the process much longer than they should.
Life Is Unpredictable
Estate planning shouldn’t be about facing your mortality, but rather about taking control. Estate planning is simply the process of being ready to handle life’s unpredictable twists and turns.
By planning your estate now you are placing your family in the best possible position to confront your eventual absence or incapacity, rather than leaving your family in a reactive mode when it is too late, and at the worst possible time, when they are scared and racked with grief at their loss. Don’t let your loved ones be caught off-guard and unprepared.
Don’t wait. Make a plan now – you can always change it later if you change your mind or your family or financial situation changes. Knowing that you have a properly prepared plan in place, which contains your instructions and will provide protection for your family, will give you and your family peace of mind. This is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for those you love.
Estate Planning Is For You
So many people say “I’m not rich. I have no estate to plan.” A common misconception of “estate planning” is that it is something only really wealthy people do or need.
Not so! No matter how large or how modest, you have an estate and you can’t take it with you when you pass away. In fact, good planning is often more important to families with modest assets that can afford to lose the least.
Estate planning is also not just for “retired” people. Unfortunately, no one can predict how long they will live and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate planning is also definitely not just for married couples. Some couples choose to not (or are not allowed to by law) marry and live in a long-term committed relationship.
If you are in a long-term committed or same-sex relationship and would like to provide for your partner upon your death or would like your partner to make decisions regarding your care in the event you become incapacitated, it is imperative that you plan your estate. Likewise, a single person must designate his or her heirs and the persons in charge of making health care decisions on his or her behalf, or the state will decide.
If you have loved ones or thoughts as to how your affairs should be conducted if you become incapacitated or pass away, then estate planning is for you.
The State Will Do It For You
In reality, everyone’s “estate” will be planned at some point, either by the individual or by the state. Unfortunately, you make not like what the state has planned for you.
If you become mentally incapacitated, and you own assets in your name alone, the court, and not your family, will control how your assets are used for your care through a guardianship. It can become quite expensive and time-consuming for your family to deal with, it is a matter of public record, and it can be difficult to end, even if you recover.
What Will Happen?
If you pass away without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to Florida’s probate laws. This may not be the way you would have intended. Who is going to keep your prized record collection? What about that special family heirloom watch?
Do you want your family fighting over this stuff?
More importantly, who is going to take care of your minor children if both of you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly? Do you want to let a judge decide without knowing whom you would have chosen?
Given the choice, wouldn’t you prefer these matters to be handled privately by your family, rather than the courts? Wouldn’t you prefer to dictate who gets what and when? If you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them?
A person or family can take the affirmative step of taking control of the process while living or allow the state to make choices for you, on much less favorable (and more expensive) terms, after your death or incapacity.
Listen. Ask. Explain.
My approach to estate planning is simple. I will sit with you and listen to your wishes and concerns, and then I will answer any questions you may have on the process.
I also ask you questions and point out issues you hadn’t contemplated. My goal is to take a vastly complicated subject like estate planning, remove the dense tax jargon and legalese, and explain your options to you in a clear, straightforward fashion that will enable you to make the most informed decision for you and your family.
I offer comprehensive, tax-sensitive estate planning specifically tailored to meet the needs and goals of my clients. I utilize advanced estate and tax planning strategies to maximize my clients’ tax savings while accomplishing their desires and objectives. I can help you with the following:
- Wills: From the simplest one to the very complex. Don’t forget your pour-over will, which is designed to work in unison with your living trust.
- Trusts: Whether to simply avoid the necessity of a probate administration at death, to administer an inheritance, to fund a grandchild’s education or whatever else your heart desires. More importantly, I advise you on how to properly fund and use your trusts.
- Powers of attorney: In the event, you are absent or incapacitated, you can appoint someone to manage your affairs.
- Advance health care directives: Designate a person or persons to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to express your wishes.
- Living wills: Make your desires known regarding resuscitation, life-support and end-of-life procedures so your family doesn’t have to make that call.
- Insurance planning: Insurance is an integral part of most estate plans. Do you have enough life insurance? Did you know that you could structure insurance products to provide income streams in the event of your incapacity or death? Do you own a business or are you a partner in professional practice and would like to make sure your family is properly protected in the event something happens to you? These are all issues that can be addressed with proper insurance planning as a part of the greater estate plan.
- Asset protection planning: Protect your family’s assets from aggressive attorneys and frivolous lawsuits.
Learn More At An Initial Consultation
At Mosley Estate Law PA, I help individuals and businesses handle a wide range of tax and estate planning matters, from the simple to the complex.