Estate Planning And Elder Law Services In Orlando And Beyond

Helping Orlando With Its Estate Planning Needs

If you have not created your estate plan yet, you probably have many questions about what estate planning is and what the process is like. This describes a lot of people in the Orlando area who have put off estate planning, perhaps because it seems daunting and confusing.

The Kaplan Firm is here to help you feel comfortable about estate planning and show you how to take full advantage of its power to protect yourself, your assets and your loved ones.

Attorney Mary Kaplan has practiced estate planning law for more than 20 years and regularly gives seminars about trusts. She is also a former certified financial planner who can show you how to use estate planning to pass on as much of your wealth to your intended heirs as possible.

We handle all aspects of estate planning, including:

  • Wills
  • Trusts, including revocable trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Advance directives

Mary will tailor your plan to fit your current age, marital and parental status, wealth and expected future income. As time passes and your circumstances change, she will help you update your plan accordingly.

For example, getting divorced or having children will likely change who you would prefer to be your heirs, beneficiaries of your trust and durable power of attorney. You can change these at any time. We will make sure those changes are done correctly so that the probate judge will accept them.

Who Needs An Estate Plan?

It’s a common myth that an estate plan is unnecessary if you are young, have no children or are of modest means. The truth is, virtually all adults should have a plan in place.

Passing away without a valid will is called dying intestate. It means that Florida’s intestacy statute dictates who will inherit the deceased’s estate. This can result in a very different distribution of your estate than you wanted. It can also slow down the probate process and increase legal fees.

Also, without an advance directive, you will not be able to control your medical care if you become too sick or injured to communicate with your doctors.

Can You Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is possible for almost all of your assets. One of the most popular methods is to put assets into a revocable trust. Also known as a living trust, this type of trust lets you use and enjoy your assets during your lifetime, then pass them on to their intended beneficiaries without their having to pass through probate first.

When Should You Modify An Estate Plan?

Any time you experience a significant life change is a good time to review your estate plan. Events like marriage, divorce, having children and a death in the family can render parts of your plan inappropriate.

For example, you probably would not want your former spouse to be one of your heirs or beneficiaries, especially if you have gotten remarried.

Even if you have not had a major life event lately, you should review your plan every few years. It could include things that made sense when you drafted it but that need to be updated now, or there may have been a change in laws that impacts your plan.

What Are The Benefits Of A Revocable Trust?

You can use a revocable trust to continue to enjoy your assets during your life and pass them on to your designated beneficiaries after you pass away. This is why this type of trust is known as a living trust. Also, you can add and remove property from the trust and change beneficiaries at any time while you are alive.

How Can Estate Planning Be Beneficial For Your Family And Personal Goals?

Estate planning is all about looking ahead and deciding how you want possible future events to be handled. Below are answers to some common questions we hear so you can be prepared.

What is a will, and why do I need one?

A will is a legal document that lays out your preferences for the distribution of your assets, the appointment of guardians for any minor children and the designation of an executor. Having a will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and can simplify the probate process.

Can you avoid probate through good estate planning?

The use of insurance policies, direct gifts, beneficiary designations, trusts and other methods can all be used to minimize or avoid probate. If you’re interested in avoiding probate in Florida, you should consult with an estate planning attorney for more estate planning tips.

How can I transfer my home to my child without going through probate?

There are numerous ways to keep real estate out of probate. The most popular methods include an enhanced life estate or “Lady Bird” deed and certain kinds of trusts. Quitclaim or “quit deed” transfers in Florida are not usually used for this process.

How does the Florida Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (FUTMA/ UTMA) work?

FUTMA/UTMA in Florida is a useful tool that allows a donor to transfer assets to a custodian for the benefit of a minor child without the need for a trust. The custodian manages and invests the assets on the minor’s behalf until they reach 21 years of age.

What is a power of attorney and why do I need one?

A power of attorney is a document that grants legal authority to your chosen agent to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf if you ever become incapacitated. It is a critical tool that can be used to make sure your affairs are handled according to your wishes.

How do I pick the right person to be my power of attorney?

You want to choose someone that you trust wholeheartedly. You also need someone who understands your wishes and is willing to uphold them. They should also live close to you and be comfortable with the responsibility.

Ready To Get Started?

If you need an estate plan, The Kaplan Firm is here to help. Contact our Orlando office to schedule an initial consult with Mary. Call 407-863-6175.