FAQs

What is Estate Planning? [ video ]

Estate Planning is the process of identifying and organizing information of a person’s assets and obligations in such a way, that you’re able to make informed testamentary decisions in favor of your beneficiaries while discharging your debts and obligations.

What Is Included In My Estate? [ video ]

The estate is a legal construct that includes a person’s assets and obligations upon the death of the individual.

When Should an Estate Plan be Reviewed? [ video ]

Once established, estate plans should be revisited between three to five years to account for changes in the family and the legal environment.
 

What Is The Difference Between a Will and a Trust? [ video ]

A Will is a document that is testamentary in nature, meaning that it only takes effect upon the death of an individual. It is very useful to provide information as to how a person’s assets are to be distributed to the intended beneficiaries and which upon completion it ceases to exist. A Trust on the other hand, is a more elaborate document that acquires its own existence upon the death of an individual at which point it’s considered to last for an indefinite period. Trusts are very useful when a person has minor children or incapacitated family members that require a higher level of supervision for an extended period of time.
 

What Is a Special Needs Trust? [ video ]

A Special Needs Trust is a specialized form of trust that provides a vehicle for depositing government benefits such as Medicaid, SSI-disability payments, proceeds from an auto accident or even an inherited sum that could otherwise disqualify the person from receiving those types of government programs or unexpected sums of money.
 

What Happens If You Do Not Have a Will or Trust? [ video ]

If a person does not have a Will it’s considered that person died intestate in which case we must follow the Florida intestacy statutes to establish the distribution of an inheritance.
 

What Does Tenancy By The Entirety Mean? [ video ]

A tenancy-by-the-entirety is a form of joint-tenancy-with-a-right of survivorship for married couples.
 

What Does It Mean To Fund a Trust? [ video ]

Funding a Trust means the process of transferring assets in favor of an existing trust.
 

What Does a Guardian or Conservator Do? [ video ]

Guardians and Conservators are individuals, often attorneys, that care and administer an otherwise incapacitated or absent person’s property assets.
 

What Benefits Does a Living Trust Offer? [ video ]

Living Trusts are used as Will substitutes in a probate context, but can likewise be very useful for the management of individuals’ estates while they’re away on travels.
 

What Are Some Typical Estate Planning Documents? [ video ]

Estate Planning documents include Wills, Trusts, Powers-of- Attorney, Family Limited Partnerships and various other instruments used for the protection and management of assets.
 

Is A Living Trust Document Ever Made Public Like a Will? [ video ]

Living Trusts are generally considered extra-judicial in nature and as such provide a great level of privacy.
 

If I Become Incapacitated Will I Need A Durable Power of Attorney If I Already Have a Living Trust?

A Living Trust typically complements a Durable-Power-of-Attorney which often depends on the scope of authority delegated to a trusted person. Both require that the Grantor of such a document have the mental or legal capacity to execute such an instrument.
 

How Is An Executor or Personal Representative Different From a Trustee?

A Personal Representative is a person appointed by a probate court that’s authorized to handle the administration of an estate. A Trustee is a person privately appointed by a grantor outside the court system or public scrutiny. 
 

How Does A Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate?

Since a Living Trust may be viewed as a vehicle that allows for the custody and management of assets, it’s conceivable that a Trustee may conduct all its administrative functions privately without requiring the need for the court-supervised probate process.
 

How Can Children From Previous Marriages Be Protected From Disinheritance When There are Step Parents?

A high degree of skill is necessary to draft both wills and trusts in such a way that following the death of a person all testamentary instructions are followed. Trusts are particularly useful as they provide for the appointment of a third party independent Successor Trustee to make sure that a Testator or Grantor’s wishes are observed. There’s another strategy that may be used and it involves the use of a “contractual will” whose creation exceeds the scope of this document.
 

Do Life Insurance or Retirement Benefits Need To Go Through Probate?

Life Insurance and Pension Benefits are viewed as benefits passing under a contract and do not involve the probate system.
 

Do I Retain Control Of My Property If It Is In A Trust?

A Grantor or creator of a Trust while alive retains full control of any and all assets in existence. Upon death the trust becomes irrevocable and the Successor Trustee must follow all instructions provided in the original document.
 

Do I Need a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney or Financial Power of Attorney?

Every individual would benefit from the use of properly drafted estate planning documents which would include Wills, Trusts and Powers-of-Attorney that become necessary during periods of incapacity and/or extended absences.
 

Can Someone Quit Claim His or Her Property To Me Instead of Leaving it in His or Her Will?

Yes, but it may not be advisable. If dad bought an investment house in West Miami for instance for $16,000 (this is an actual case) in 1968. Quit claims to son and daughter soon there after and dies in 2020, the adult children inherited the dad's original basis (called a "carry-over" basis) for what the amount he paid for and would likely face a huge capital gains tax if the property now sells for $400K. Even at 15% you're talking about $57,000.

If they had inherited the house through a will or trust the adult children would be recognized as having a "step-up" in basis allowing for the Capital Gains tax calculated using the date of death sale price which would be minimal.