southwest florida estate planning

Do I Need a Will?

Unless you like the idea of a judge you have never met deciding who gets your assets and who will take care of your kids as part of a lengthy and costly court process, you need a will. A will allows you to specifically direct how your assets will be distributed upon your passing, and allows you to appoint trusted individuals to be the personal representative in Florida of your estate and guardian of your children. Just as important, a will makes things easier for your loved ones during a difficult time.

What’s the difference between a will and a trust?

Trusts work either independently or in tandem with a will and provide a number of distinct benefits. While both go into effect upon signing, the will does not take into account the need for Incapacity planning that a trust offers.While a will only takes effect after you die, a trust takes effect upon execution. With a trust, you identify specific assets (real property, stocks, money, etc.) that are transferred to the trust.

During your life, you are in control of the trust and all of its assets. When you pass away, your appointed trustee will ensure that your wishes are carried out according to your specific terms.You appoint a trustee (which can be a bank, attorney, trusted relative, etc.) to administer the trust for your benefit. While the reality is that not much changes in terms of your use and enjoyment of anything transferred to the trust, by transferring ownership now, upon your death the assets in the trust won’t have to go through probate (the court process of officially recognizing transfers of ownership upon death) and can also remain private. After you pass away, the assets are managed and distributed per your wishes as outlined in the trust

There are also a number of specialized trusts that can be established to manage and distribute assets, such as special needs trusts that provide for the care, resources, and well-being of children and adults with special needs.

Why should I hire an estate planning attorney? Can’t I just use an online form and do it myself?

You certainly could go online, download a generic will or trust form and fill in some blanks, but there’s a good chance that it won’t accomplish what you want it to and in fact cause you and your loved ones significant problems in the future.

The forms you find online may not be appropriate for your circumstances, may not satisfy the requirements of your particular state’s laws, and often leave many issues unaddressed. When that happens, the dollars you are trying to save with a DIY estate plan can look like a pittance compared to the costs in legal fees, family conflict, and lengthy litigation arising from an inadequate or unenforceable plan.

An experienced estate planning lawyer will understand you and your goals and design a personalized plan that will cover all the bases and accomplish exactly what you want.

What is Long Term Care Planning?

While there are many aspects of , perhaps the biggest issue that an elder law attorney can assist with is the extraordinary cost of long-term care. It is likely that you or your spouse will need long-term care at some-point whether it be in a nursing home, assisted-living facility or through a full-time caregiver. Contrary to what many people believe, Medicare will not cover the costs of long-term care after a relatively short period of time. Given the astronomical costs of long-term care, it is also likely that you won’t have sufficient assets to pay for such care yourself, and you would certainly rather have those assets be used for other purposes or preserved so you can pass them down to your children.That is where long term care planning comes in.

Long-term care planning involves structuring your assets in such a way that you can exclude them from the calculations involved in determining Medicaid eligibility so you can preserve those assets for yourself and your heirs.

However, the rules and regulations involved in preserving and protecting your assets in a way that can qualify you for Medicaid benefits are complex and detailed, and if they are not followed, it can cause you big and costly headaches. A skilled elder law attorney can navigate these rules and get you the benefits you need for long-term care so you can keep the assets you’ve worked so hard for all these years.