What Are Trusts?

If I am given power of attorney, can I also receive a gift?

If I am given power of attorney, can I also receive a gift from the person who named me their power of attorney?

The Basics of Estate Planning Clearwater Documents

estate planning Clearwater Pen to PaperWhile estate planning may seem a daunting task, understanding your estate planning Clearwater documents typically involved can take a lot of the mystery out of it.

Health Care Directive

One of the most important documents in your estate plan is your Advanced Health Care Directive. This document allows you to nominate agents to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. Further, it permits you to be specific as to the type of treatment you do, and do not, want. It can be clear in explaining any end-of-life treatment decisions you may choose, such as maintaining or withdrawing life support, or organ donations. Finally, it should include clear HIPPA releases which allow your agents to access your medical records and deal with health insurance issues. Consult with your Clearwater estate planning attorney to assist in drafting this important document.

Financial Power of Attorney

In the event of your incapacity, it is important that your bills continue to be paid, your assets managed, and your family provided for. This can be accomplished through the power of attorney, in which you nominate an agent to handle these matters on your behalf. The power of attorney can be effective immediately, or only upon your incapacity. Additionally, it can give limited or broad powers to your designated agent. Your Clearwater estate planning lawyer can guide you in determining how best to construct this document.

Will

Your will designates an executor to administer your estate after your death. Your executor is empowered to pay bills of the estate and file tax returns, managing your estate until it can be properly distributed to the beneficiaries named in this document. Again, it is important to discuss your goals with your Clearwater estate planning attorney.

Living Trust

This is a very powerful document which nominates your successor trustees who will manage trust assets upon your incapacity or at your death. It designates beneficiaries who will inherit your estate at your death, but also ensures that you designate a professional fiduciary or trusted friends or family members to manage the estate on your behalf, during your lifetime, if you are unable to do so yourself. Again, the Clearwater estate planning attorneys at the Coleman Law Firm can assist you in preparing this document.

Contact Us for More Information on Estate Planning Clearwater Documents

Contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727.461.7474 or toll free at 866.461.7474 to prepare or review your estate plan.

Dunedin Estate Planning Attorney Offers Tips and Advice on Estate Planning

dunedin estate planning attorney greeting clientProper estate planning is essential for people of all ages. Here are some tips from a Dunedin estate planning attorney to help you get the most out of your estate plan.

Essential Documents

  • Will and/or Trust
  • Health Care Directive
  • Power of Attorney

A will is a testamentary document which nominates an executor to administer, and names beneficiaries to inherit, your estate. You can also make provisions for minor children, including naming a guardian for them.

Consult with your Dunedin estate planning attorney to determine whether a trust is advisable for you. The advantages of a trust include the ability to avoid probate (a court process administering your estate after your death), potential tax advantages, and privacy. Unlike a will, which becomes a public record, your trust generally will avoid probate and allow your estate plan not to become publicly known.

Your advance directive for health care allows you to direct your end-of-life care as well as nominates agents who can make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.

Your Dunedin estate planning lawyer can draft a power of attorney on your behalf which names your agents who will act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. You need not empower your agents now, but planning in advance can allow your named agent to swiftly manage your estate if you are incapacitated and ensure that your obligations are being met and your family is protected.

Regular Review

Once in place, you should regularly review your estate plan with your attorney to ensure that your needs are continuing to be met. Most changes to estate plans result from the following:

  • Change in tax laws
  • Change in family circumstances such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces
  • Change in net worth
  • Change in assets owned
  • Moving your residence
  • Purchase or sale of a business
  • Minor children reaching adulthood
  • Change in the choice of named executors, successor trustees, and agents.

It is very important to discuss each of these changes with your attorney as they happen. For example, a change in tax laws could mean that you are not getting the most from your estate plan as written. Similarly, consultation with your lawyer could alert you as to issues regarding your investment portfolio.

Contact a Dunedin Estate Planning Attorney

Contact Mr. Coleman at the Coleman Law Firm at 727.461.7474 or toll free at 866.461.7474 to prepare or review your estate plan.

When to Consider Estate Planning

Proper estate planning can ensure that your wishes are observed, and you and your loved onesWest Palm Beach Estate Planning Lawyer  Gavel and Power of Attorney Document are protected.

Health Care Decisions Explained By a Clearwater Estate Law Attorney

Have you considered who will assist you in the event you cannot make health care decisions yourself? What if you are in an accident and cannot be consulted about your own health care? What if you require long-term care? These are real issues faced by many. Ensure that your wishes are known and that your desired agents are empowered to carry out those decisions through consultation with a Clearwater estate law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm.

Guardianship of Minor Children

Proper estate planning with a Clearwater estate law attorney can ensure that you have provided for minor children. Who will be their guardians? Will their guardian also be the financial trustee of your estate? These decisions must be carefully considered.

A Loved One with Special Needs

If you have a family member who will inherit, is that person suited to manage the assets received? Perhaps your loved one has a disability qualifying for public assistance. Will an inheritance disqualify them from receiving future benefits?

Issues Which May Endanger an Inheritance

Perhaps your loved one has or had a substance abuse issue for which management of an inheritance is warranted. Does a family member have a marriage which may end in divorce? Does a family member have a spending problem, or perhaps he or she is not adept at managing assets. In any of these cases, you may consider establishing a trust which would benefit that family member without risking the loss of the estate through profligate or unwise spending. A candid discussion with your Clearwater estate law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm can address potential problems and identify solutions.

Privacy

A probated will is a public record, meaning that anyone could conduct a search to determine what assets are in an estate and who the beneficiaries are. A trust can avoid this situation since it is a private document which is generally administered without court intervention.

Tax Issues

Transferring assets through inheritance or gifts can lead to unintended tax consequences. Estate, capital gains, income, and gift taxes are just a few traps for the unwary, the impact of which consultation and proper planning with your Clearwater estate law attorney can minimize.

Contact Us

Call the Coleman Law Firm at (727) 461-7474 to discuss these and other estate planning issues.

Orlando Man Arrested in $2 Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced on January 14, 2015 that they had arrestedclearwater estate law attorney Gavel on top of book Gus Papathanasopoulos, owner of Neofat Industries, Inc., a/k/a Microlipid Technologies.  Mr. Papathanasopoulos was arrested on one count of securities fraud, 18 counts of selling unregistered securities and 18 counts of selling securities as an unregistered agent.

Mr. Papathanasopoulos solicited more than 100 investors located throughout the United States and Europe.  In return for their investments, individuals were told they would receive stock in his Orlando based company, Neofat Industries, Inc.  According to the Office of Financial Regulation (“OFR”), the company is alleged to be an empty shell with no legitimate business activity.  It was suggested by the OFR that all of the money raised by Mr. Papathanasopoulos was used for his personal benefit.

Mr. Papathanasopoulos was being held in the Orange County Jail, but it is not known if he is still there at this time.

This is just another example of why we here at the Coleman Law Firm recommend that you check out who you are really doing business with BEFORE you make that investment.  It is so important to check with www.finra.org to ensure that your broker is duly registered with a broker dealer, and that you also check out the broker dealer where your broker is employed.  You want to go to the “BROKER CHECK” box on the main page of the FINRA website.  You can see how long your broker has been in the business, if he has had any regulatory issues in the past or is currently involved in one, and if he has had other customer complaints.  You don’t want to hand over your life savings to someone that was selling used cars just a month before you became his client unless you find he is under the careful eye of an experienced manager.

If you have any additional questions on how to check out your broker, please do not hesitate to give us a call or drop us an email.  Our phone number is (727) 461-7474 or email us at jeff@coleman law.com.  We would much rather be assisting you with your estate planning asset management than trying to recover lost assets.

Estate Planning Gives You Peace of Mind

Estate planning is not simply an exercise for the elderly, but a prudent step for any adult. It is a clearwater estate law attorney Seat of Judge
valuable gift you can leave your family, which, with your proper planning, will be spared the expense and distress often associated with administering an intestate estate.  

Will

This is the most basic document in your estate plan. It provides for disposition of assets at death and appoints an executor to administer the estate.  A will’s advantage is orderly estate administration. Additional benefits include nominating guardians for minor children, leaving funds for education, providing for the care of pets, and ensuring the continued operation or disposition of a business. Consultation with your Clearwater estate law attorney can help you ensure your will addresses issues significant to your family.

Health Care Directive

Your health care directive identifies an agent enabled to make care decisions for you if you cannot. This document can provide for your wishes relative to organ donation or life support. Making your wishes known in advance can avoid contentious future litigation, and can give your loved ones the comfort of knowing they are following your wishes.

Power of Attorney

Your Clearwater estate law attorney can assist you in drafting a power of attorney nominating an agent who will be able to handle your affairs if you are unable to do so. In the event of your incapacity, bills still need to be paid, your investments need to be managed, and your family cared for. Your agent under power of attorney will have the authority to act on your behalf if you cannot to ensure your obligations are being met.

Living Trust

You can establish a living trust after consultation with your Clearwater estate law attorney that will provide substantially the same benefits as a will, and offer you significant additional benefits as well. Like a will, your trust can provide for disposition of assets at your death to ensure your family, pets, business, and other interests are provided for. Unlike a will, though, your living trust can avoid the necessity of probating your estate.

Contact A Clearwater Estate Law Attorney

Call a Clearwater estate law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm, 866.461.7474, to discuss establishing an estate plan to benefit your family.

Information Your Estate Planning Attorney Needs

Tampa FL estate planning lawyer Lady of JusticeWhen you meet with Tampa FL estate planning lawyers, you may be asked to provide information regarding yourself and your estate needs. Here is a brief list that Tampa FL estate planning attorneys may request of you.

Background Information

Be prepared to provide information that can help identify you, including your name, address and date of birth. Tampa FL estate planning lawyers will also likely ask for your contact information to update you when your documents are in order.

Liabilities

In addition to providing Tampa FL estate planning attorneys with information regarding your assets, also be prepared to provide information about your liabilities. Have your mortgage, credit card debt, business debt and guarantee information ready.

Current State of Affairs

Tampa FL estate planning lawyers need to know whether their clients have taken any other steps to prepare for death or incapacitation. When they prepare clients’ wills, they must expressly revoke other wills, if applicable. Additionally, they will want to know whether the testator has provided for any previous taxable gifts. Your attorney will want to know whether you want to include a trust for minor children or other beneficiaries, as well as the identity of all of your intended beneficiaries. If you have unique estate planning needs, such as making charitable gifts, providing for disabled loved ones or simplifying the probate process, communicate this information to your attorney.

Fiduciary Information

It is important to provide your lawyer with information regarding the individual that you want to help handle your financial affairs. Include contact information for your personal representative, as well as his or her relationship to you. Additionally, provide information for alternate or successor trustees or personal representatives. If you have minor children, discuss who you want to serve as their guardian.

If you would like to know about other information that your estate planning attorney will need, contact the Coleman Law Firm by calling (727) 461-7474.

Why You Need an Attorney In Fact for your Estate

Tampa estate attorney GavelIf you are in the process of settling your estate and preparing it for your beneficiaries, a Tampa estate attorney advises why you need an attorney in fact.

An attorney in fact is the person otherwise known as the designated agent in regards to your document of power of attorney. According to a Tampa estate lawyer, this person is given the authority to handle everything under the scope of the power of attorney:

  • Your personal financial affairs;
  • The execution of contracts;
  • Motor vehicle registration;
  • Bank account transactions;
  • Tax returns; and
  • Real estate sales.

When the power of attorney is considered “durable,” the attorney will have power even if you are incapacitated.

The decision to select an attorney in fact is very important, as the right choice will allow you peace of mind that your affairs will be handled exactly how you specified.

A Tampa estate attorney advises that an attorney of fact must fulfill one of the two requirements in Florida:

  • Must be 18 years or older and of sound mind; and
  • Must be a financial institution located in Florida and have trust powers.

When choosing an attorney, a Tampa estate attorney recommends that you have complete faith in that person’s legal abilities. If you trust the competence, loyalty and devotion of your attorney, then you should proceed to make the power effective immediately. The original document should be left in the care of your attorney to make sure it is safe.

If your faith in your attorney is not strong, you may not want to grant power of attorney.

Other considerations for selecting an attorney in fact:

  • Is the attorney close or convenient to you, geographically?
  • Is the attorney willing to serve on your behalf?
  • Does your attorney get along with the person you want to designate as your health care surrogate?

For more information regarding attorney in fact, contact a Tampa estate attorney from the Coleman Law Firm by calling 727-461-7474.

Financial Accounts That Avoid Probate

As part of your estate plan, your Tampa FL estate planning lawyer may recommend a variety of Tampa FL estate planning lawyer Judge Seatfinancial accounts that are designed to avoid the probate process. Additionally, these accounts can help get much needed funds in the hands of the beneficiary whom you designate.

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Your Tampa FL estate planning lawyer may recommend using this type of account that disallows creditors from reaching the proceeds in the account. Unless a signature card, agreement or contract with the financial institution specifies otherwise, the proceeds in the account pass through survivorship upon the death of the other account holder. Some individuals establish this type of account as a convenience so that another person can write checks for them. However, a Tampa FL estate planning lawyer may describe the potential drawbacks of establishing this type of account, such as making a presumptive gift to another individual.

Tenants by the Entirety

This type of account is only available to spouses. If the account was established with the unities of interest, possession, time and title, there is a presumption that a joint account held in both spouses’ names is a tenants by the entirety account.

Pay on Death Accounts

This type of account is a traditional financial account. However, your Tampa FL estate planning attorney can explain that the main difference is that the account holder can designate a person to receive the remaining balance in the account after he or she dies. The beneficiary receives no immediate right to the account or the funds in it during the account holder’s lifetime. The account holder can name one party as the beneficiary or multiple parties. Additionally, he or she can set up the account so that one of the parties listed is the trustee for the other beneficiaries.

Convenience Accounts

Your Tampa FL estate planning attorney can explain the value of using a convenience account. This type of account allows you to give limited powers to another party to assist you without having to relinquish control of the account.

If you would like to know if any of these types of accounts or any others can help you with your estate plan, contact the Coleman Law Firm by calling (727) 461-7474.

Avoiding Estate Taxes

Clearwater estate planning attorneys Gavel and American FlagDue to the fact that estate laws change so frequently, it can be difficult for Clearwater estate planning attorneys to devise an effective estate plan that minimizes the amount of taxes that an estate may be subjected to. In recent history, only those estates that have high values are subject to the federal estate tax. Additionally, estate tax exemptions tend to increase over time to properly account for inflation.

Federal Exemption Rate

Clearwater estate planning attorneys can explain that the federal exemption rate in 2014 was $5.34 million. This means that the value of the estate over this amount is subject to a large estate tax.

State Estate Tax

While some states also impose an estate or inheritance tax, Clearwater estate planning attorneys can explain that Florida does not impose such a tax. State estate taxes tend to have a much lower exemption rate than the federal exemption rate.

Ways to Avoid Estate Tax

If you anticipate that the value of your estate may exceed the federal exemption rate, Clearwater estate planning lawyers may advise you to take advantage of one or more of the following strategies to help reduce your tax liability.

Leave It to Your Spouse

The federal exemption rate excludes those assets that you specifically devise to your spouse. You can leave your entire estate to your spouse tax-free. However, when your spouse dies, his or her estate will be subject to the exemption rate.

Use an Irrevocable Trust

Clearwater estate planning lawyers can explain that revocable trust assets are still used to calculate the total amount of tax due because the settlor still has control of these assets. However, irrevocable trusts function differently because you do not retain control of these assets. The trust becomes the legal owner of the assets. Through an irrevocable trust, you can transfer assets to beneficiaries without incurring taxes, even if their value exceeds the exemption amount.

Use a Different Trust

Additionally, your estate planning lawyer can advise you of other potential trust options. For example, a credit shelter trust can have assets that are equal to the value of the federal exemption rate. If you establish this trust at your death, your spouse can still receive income from these assets like he or she would have if you devised them specifically to your spouse in a will. This strategy can also help you avoid putting your spouse’s estate over the federal exemption limit.

Minimize the Value of Your Estate

Another potential way that you can minimize your tax liability is by decreasing the value of your estate. For example, you can make gifts of up to $14,000 each year without having to pay gift taxes while keeping within the annual exclusion limit. Certain gifts do not count toward the annual exclusion, such as tuition or medical expenses that you pay on behalf of another person.

If you would like to learn about other ways that you can potentially avoid incurring federal estate tax, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Clearwater trust administration attorney

Estate Plan Considerations

Dunedin estate planning attorney working at his deskWhile your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that the foundation of any estate plan is to provide a plan for how your property is distributed at your death, he or she can explain that estate plans involve many more principles than this. A Dunedin estate planning lawyer can help you devise a plan in case you become incapacitated and plan for other potential events that can significantly impair your finances. Here are some documents that a Dunedin estate planning lawyer may advise will be part of your estate plan.

Wills

When most people think of estate planning, they think of wills. Rather than having the state decide how to dispose of your property, a will lets you make these decisions. However, your Dunedin estate planning lawyer can explain that wills also allow parents to name a guardian for their children. Additionally, you can name an executor to oversee the process.

Trusts

Another tool that you can add to your estate plan is a trust. Trusts provide for the lawful transfer of property. Trusts can help provide for the management of assets during your life and upon your death. Trust assets are shielded from the probate process. Additionally, you can set parameters around when property should be transferred from the trust to your beneficiaries, unlike with wills.

Power of Attorney

A Dunedin estate planning attorney may recommend that you include a power of attorney as part of your estate plan. This legal relationship allows another person to make financial decisions on your behalf. They can operate while you are ill, when you become incapacitated or both.

Health Care Directives

A health care directive allows you to pre-determine how you want things to proceed when certain situations occur. For example, you can instruct medical providers not to provide you with life-sustaining treatment through the use of a living will. Additionally, you can designate a health care proxy who will have the legal right to make health care decisions on your behalf.

If you would like more information on what you should include in your own estate plan, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Limited and General Financial Power of Attorney Designations

Largo estate planning lawyer signing documentsMany estate plans focus on what will happen after the client dies and virtually ignore what financial arrangements should be made during the client’s lifetime. If you would like to appoint another person to be able to make financial decisions on your behalf, a Largo estate planning lawyer can help establish a power of attorney for you.

Definitions

A Largo estate planning lawyer may define the following terms:

  • agent or attorney-in-fact – the individual who is given the right to make financial decisions on another person’s behalf
  • principal – the person who is giving the other individual the right to make financial decisions on his or her behalf
  • financial power of attorney – the legal document that provides the powers that the principal gives the agent

As the principal, you can determine which powers you want to give the agent, when you want the person to start having those powers and when you want them to cease having these powers.

Some FPOAs Address Specific Situations

Your Largo estate planning attorney can explain that some financial power of attorney designations are limited in nature. These special power of attorney designations may limit the powers, such as only giving the agent the right to write checks on your behalf or the amount of time that the agent will have these powers. For example, if you inform your Largo estate planning lawyer that you will be out of the country, he or she may recommend that you provide a start and end date for the agent.

Specific Designations

Statutory power of attorney forms usually provide for general powers to be provided to the agent without you having to do much more than initial the page. However, there are certain powers that you may have to specifically list on your power of attorney document. For example, you may have to specifically state that you give your financial power of attorney the right to change your beneficiaries, trusts or will.

Commencement and Termination of Financial Power of Attorneys

A Largo estate planning attorney can explain that there are ways that you can ensure that your financial power of attorney be able to act on your behalf when needed. For example, by making the power of attorney durable in nature, your agent will continue to be able to act as your agent in this capacity even if you become disabled or incapacitated. Additionally, your power of attorney can start taking action immediately. If you are worried only about someone handling your affairs if you are incapacitated, your attorney may recommend that you use a “springing” power of attorney. All power of attorney designations naturally expire at death.

If you would like assistance in establishing your power of attorney, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Legal Requirements for Trusts

Bellaire estate planning attorney reviewing legal bookIf you are interested in creating a trust as part of your estate plan, a Belleair estate planning attorney can discuss the legal formalities that must be executed with trusts. Additionally, your Belleair estate planning attorney can explain that these formalities are the same as those required by individuals who make a valid will.

Writing

One basic requirement of a valid trust that your Belleair estate planning attorney can mention to you is the need for the trust to be in writing.

Signatures

Additionally, your Belleair estate planning attorney can explain that you must sign the trust or ask another person to sign on your behalf in your presence. Two witnesses must see this signing personally. These witnesses must also sign the trust in front of the person creating it and in the presence of one another.

Presumption of Revocability

The person who establishes the trust is usually able to revoke or amend the trust at his or her bidding unless the trust is expressly made irrevocable.

Revoking or Amending a Trust

If only one person created the trust, the settlor can generally amend or revoke the trust by substantially complying with a revocation or amendment provision in the trust. If the trust does not say how to amend or revoke the trust, the settlor can revoke or amend it by making a later will or codicil that specifically devises the trust property or any other method that provides clear and convincing evidence of the settlor’s intention to revoke or amend the trust. Again, the formalities of creating a will are required.

Special Rules Regarding Joint Settlors

If more than one settlor established a trust, such as when a married couple does, there are different rules regarding revoking or amending the trust. For example, if the trust has community property in it, the trust can be revoked by either spouse. However, it can only be amended by both of the spouses together. For property amendments that are separate property, each settlor can revoke or amend the trust regarding that part of the trust individually. Contact a Belleair estate planning attorney from the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474 for help with your estate plan.

Health Care Advanced Directives

Dunedin estate planning attorney gavel and American flag

While much of estate planning involves the distribution of certain assets, a Dunedin estate planning attorney can discuss the importance of healthcare documents. These documents can have a significant impact on your future and well-being.

General Information on Advanced Directives

Your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that an advanced directive is a statement that gives certain directions to healthcare providers. The individual giving the instructions is referred to as a “principal.” The principal. A Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that the most common kinds of advance directives are health care surrogate designations and living wills.

Health Care Surrogates

Additionally, your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that health care surrogates are individuals who are allowed to make decisions on behalf of the principal once the principal is declared to be incapacitated. Additionally, these individuals are given the power to consult with healthcare providers and access medical records to help them make more informed decisions. They also have the authority to give consent on behalf of the principal. Health care surrogates can apply for benefits and access income and asset information for this cause.

Your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain the legal requirements of appointing a health care surrogate. To create a surrogate, the principal must be competent at the time of the designation. Additionally, the principal must sign a document that designates a health care surrogate. If the principal needs someone else to sign the form because he or she is physically incapable, the principal can direct another person to sign for him or her. Two witnesses must be present at the signing, neither of whom can be the health care surrogate. Only one of the two witnesses can be the principal’s spouse or relative.

Living Wills

A living will provides specific directions from the principal regarding important health care matters. The living will applies to when a person has a terminal illness, has an end-stage condition or when the person is in a persistent vegetative state. Directions may pertain to providing life-prolonging procedures, withholding these procedures or withdrawing these procedures.

Contact a Dunedin Estate Planning Attorney

If you would like more information on this topic, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Probate Advantages and Disadvantages

Largo estate planning attorney Money and CalculatorWhile you may have heard many individuals talk about the hideous probate process and the desperate need to avoid them, your Largo estate planning attorney can explain the advantages as well as disadvantages of the probate process. Being more informed on this topic can help you construct a more effective estate plan with your Largo estate planning attorney.

Disadvantages of Probate

Your Largo estate planning attorney can explain that the most significant disadvantage of probate is that it takes too much time. While life insurance proceeds may go to the beneficiary shortly after the necessary forms and proof of death are completed or a property may immediately transfer if there is a right of survivorship attached to it, probate can take many months or even years. This means that the beneficiaries may not receive needed assets until well after the decedent dies. Another disadvantage that your Largo estate planning lawyer may discuss with you is the cumbersome characteristic of probate. Probating a will can involve the need to file numerous documents with the court.

How to Avoid Probate

Due to these disadvantages, your Largo estate planning lawyer may recommend attempting to avoid probate. This can be accomplished through several avenues, such as by providing inter vivos gifts, adding a transfer on death characteristic for bank accounts, joint tenancies with the right of survivorship for certain bank accounts and real property, trusts and life insurance policies.

Advantages of Probate

Probate offers some advantages. For example, it usually provides greater protection to your beneficiaries. Additionally, it has an established set of rules to help handle creditor claims of the estate.

Unexpected Circumstances

While many individuals have the goal of avoiding probate, they may be unaware of the consequences that can occur when this route is taken. For example, if a person is added to an account so that the account can pass automatically at death, that individual may make charges that the original owner did not authorize. Likewise, a person may use up their gift tax and have their beneficiaries liable for estate tax.

If you would like more information on the probate process, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Information to Provide to Your Estate Planning Attorney

Largo estate lawyer GavelYour Largo estate lawyer requires a lot of information in order to help you establish an effective estate plan. This information helps your Largo estate attorney to better understand your financial situation and goals. Your lawyer may ask you to complete a questionnaire or to bring a variety of documents with you when you first meet with your Largo estate attorney. The following information may be required by your attorney.

Information about You and Your Background

Your Largo estate lawyer may ask you about the following information that is pertinent to you and your background:
  • Your full legal name
  • Your mailing and physical address
  • Your home phone number and your cell phone number
  • Whether you have lived in another state or country
  • The country where you are considered a citizen
  • Your date of birth
  • Your job

Family Information

Your Largo estate lawyer may ask about your marital and family history. In particular, he or she may ask for the following information:

  • Your current marital status
  • Date of your current marriage
  • Whether you are divorced or widowed
  • The name of your former spouse
  • The date of death of your former spouse or the date of divorce
  • Whether your deceased spouse left a will
  • State where your former spouse died or where the divorce was granted
  • Financial requirements listed in the divorce decree
  • Whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place
  • Whether you have any children and their identification
  • Whether you wish to leave any children out of your will

Assets

Your lawyer also needs to know about the types of assets that you have. He or she will likely ask for the different types of financial accounts you have, their location and their relative value. You may be asked to provide information about real property you own, checking accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, business interests, pension plans, trust interests and other assets of significant value.

For help with your estate plan, contact Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Durable Power of Attorney Designations

Safety Harbor estate lawyer meeting with clientsA durable power of attorney may be one document that your Safety Harbor estate lawyer recommends as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Your Safety Harbor estate attorney can explain the dynamics of this legal designation.

General Guidelines

Your Safety Harbor estate lawyer can explain that a durable power of attorney gives you, the principal, the power to designate another person, the agent, to take care of your personal financial affairs. The powers that you give the agent are at your discretion. There are general rights that a power of attorney usually receives, such as the ability to file your tax returns, execute contracts on your behalf, complete bank account transactions and register motor vehicles unless you have different instructions. You may also prefer to limit your power of attorney to a particular task, such as selling real estate.

Durability

A Safety Harbor attorney can explain the special term “durable.” Generally, a power of attorney expires upon the incapacitation of the principal. However, a durable power of attorney endures after the principal becomes incapacitated. This means that the individual will retain the right to take care of your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

Types of Power of Attorney Designations

There are several ways that you can establish a power of attorney relationship, as your Safety Harbor estate lawyer can explain. For example, you can grant a special durable power of attorney. This provides for the completion of tasks related to a specific project, such as the sale of a house. A springing power of attorney allows you to designate an agent of your choice, but the individual does not get the power to conduct your financial affairs until you become incapacitated or until another event transpires that you establish ahead of time. You can also grant a general durable power of attorney if you would like the individual to be able to make financial decisions on your behalf and to have general powers.

If you would like more information on a durable power of attorney and how this can help your estate plan, contact the Coleman Law Firm by calling 727-461-7474 and setting up a confidential consultation.

An Overview of Estate Planning  

Dunedin estate planning lawyer Men Reviewing Estate Planning DocumentsSome people entertain the mistaken belief that estate planning is only for the elderly. However, it is especially necessary for anyone with minor children, assets to protect and anyone who wants to prepare for the future. Your estate plan helps you clearly communicate your wishes in writing through legal documents, including a will, a trust, a living will and powers of attorney. The focus is on helping your loved ones after your passing and protecting them from undue expense or pain. Our Dunedin estate planning lawyer can provide guidance through this process, no matter the size of your estate.

Meeting Your Estate Planning Needs

Our Dunedin estate planning attorney will discuss your goals and work to develop an estate plan tailor-made to meet your needs. We will answer your questions and address your concerns in order to ease your mind as you take care of these matters.

Parts of Estate Planning

The amount of estate planning you need depends on your specific concerns. For example, a will is used to transfer your property to those you designate, such as individuals, charities or businesses. The will also addresses the care of any minor children and usually sets up a trustee to represent you after your death. A living will is used to provide instructions regarding medical treatment if you cannot make your own decisions and generally includes addressing your preferences regarding any life-sustaining methods. A trust is an entity that manages monies and distributes them to one or more beneficiaries. While a will takes time to administer, a trust is immediately effective and avoids the red tape of probate. Our Dunedin estate planning lawyer can address your concerns regarding each of these areas.

Probate

Probate settles the decedent’s estate and transfers assets to the correct recipients. It is also the process of legally validating the will. The time frame can take from a few months to many years. Our Dunedin estate planning attorney can provide suggestions on how to minimize this time frame.

If you have questions or need help with organizing your affairs, call our Dunedin estate planning lawyer. Contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474 for further information.

Probate and Non-probate Assets

Dunedin estate attorneys meetingOne of the important aspects of developing an estate plan is using non-probate assets. Your Dunedin estate attorney can explain the key differences between probate and non-probate assets.

Probate Assets

Your Dunedin estate attorney may tell you that probate assets are those that are typically subject to probate. They may include assets that are listed in the decedent’s will or that are those mentioned in the laws of intestacy if the decedent had no will or his or her will was declared invalid. Your Dunedin lawyer may further simplify this definition by saying that probate assets are usually those that are titled in the decedent’s name.

For example, real property, bank accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, brokerage accounts, vehicles, personal property, royalties from intellectual property, personal loans, an interest in a pending lawsuit and money are commonly probate assets. However, if there is a right of survivorship that is attached to the asset or if the asset is subject to a payable-on-death designation, the asset is usually not a probate asset. Additionally, many jurisdictions have a protected homestead law to prevent the decedent’s primary residence from being passed through the probate process. Furthermore, if any of these assets allowed the decedent to establish a beneficiary upon death, the asset is usually not subject to probate.

Non-Probate Assets

In contrast, your Dunedin lawyer can explain that non-probate assets are those that do not pass under the terms of a will or the laws of intestacy. Additionally, your Dunedin estate attorney may provide you with a list of typical non-probate assets. For example, life insurance is commonly a large portion of non-probate assets as long as the estate or the personal representative is not named as the beneficiary. Employer-provided retirement plans are common non-probate assets, assuming that the testator is not married. Likewise, funds that are part of a person’s Individual Retirement Account are usually non-probate assets. So are assets that are part of trusts and assets that pass with a right of survivorship, such as real property or a bank account.

Contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474 for help with your estate plan.

Estate Planning and Fiduciary Management

Clearwater estate attorney Lawyers Business MeetingA fiduciary is a person who holds something in trust for another, such as management of assets. In estate planning, fiduciaries are deemed to have a great deal of power and authority in the management of one’s affairs and may be empowered to make decisions that are delicate and difficult when you, the testator, are not able. When planning your estate you will need to appoint one or more fiduciaries, and a Clearwater estate attorney will help in this regard.

Who Can Be Named Fiduciaries to Manage the Estate?

It is the duty of the named fiduciary to act on behalf of the testator and carry out responsibilities that serve his best interests. A fiduciary may be a person, but it may also be an entity. For instance, a tax advisor can be a fiduciary, but a bank, or your Clearwater estate law firm, may also assume this role.

It is important to point out that you should appoint individuals whom you feel are best suited to the various roles. You might also name one person to take on all of the fiduciary responsibilities. There is good reason for this. The individual you name must be someone you implicitly trust, one who you literally trust with your life. Moreover, you need to make sure that the person you name does not have a personal stake in your estate. This may exclude a spouse. The fiduciary may need at some point to make difficult decisions regarding the medical status of the testator, which may be hard for a spouse to do. You must also make sure that the person you name will not cause undue conflict in the family.

What Are the Specific Functions of the Fiduciary?

The fiduciary may make decisions when you are deemed incapacitated and unable to do so for yourself. Also, the fiduciary will carry out functions such as investing funds held in trust, offering financial planning advice and paying taxes. Your Clearwater estate attorney will tell you that when you choose the fiduciary, there are matters you need to consider:

• Does the person have sufficient knowledge of financial matters to help?
• Does he/she want to take on the role?
• Does the person live nearby, and will he/she be available when needed?

A Clearwater Estate Law Firm Can Help

If you are planning your estate and need to name fiduciaries, consult with a Clearwater estate attorney. Call Coleman Law Firm to arrange a meeting at 727-461-7474.