Longwood Florida Estate Planning Attorneys: (321) 972-2445
Serving the Estate Needs of Clients in Seminole County and Throughout Florida
At the Law Offices of Brett D. Bevis, we know a well-drafted estate plan requires putting in the time to understand our clients’ goals. Whether you want to avoid probate or protect assets from creditors, we take the time to discuss the available tools to meet your needs. We also collaborate with financial planners to ensure the estate plan accomplishes our clients’ goals.
Why Choose Our Estate Planning Law Firm?
- We Bring 20+ Years’ Experience
- Affordable Legal Solutions, Tailored to Your Goals
- 5-Star Reviews from Our Past Clients
- Available Weekends & After Hours by Appointment
Call (321) 4972-2445 or contact us online to schedule your consultation with our Longwood estate planning lawyers.
What is an Estate Plan?
When people think of estate planning, they often think of a last will and testament or a trust. While these are important, we know there are many other estate documents everyone should include in their plan.
Our estate attorneys can help you with the following, and more:
- Power of attorney – designates someone to act on your behalf, whether to manage your finances or make healthcare decisions if you are unable. In addition, this can be an inexpensive alternative to guardianship.
- Living will – let your loved ones and medical providers know when you no longer desire life-prolonging measures.
- Advance guardianship directive – designate who you want to be your guardian in the event that you are no longer able to manage your care or finances.
These are very powerful estate documents you should draft with the help of an experienced attorney. At the Law Offices of Brett D. Bevis, our estate attorneys can give you peace of mind that these documents will be enforceable under Florida Law.
Our attorneys also take pride in ensuring our veterans receive the benefits earned through their service. We also prepare estate plans to help clients qualify for government benefits, like Medicaid. Through this, we can help you get health coverage for your loved ones.
Do I Need an Estate Plan?
You may be wondering if you truly need to create a plan for your estate. You may believe your assets will be simple for your loved ones to manage should you die or become incapacitated. Legal documents laying out your wishes may seem unnecessary. However, there are many reasons why a well-crafted estate plan is essential for anyone.
Under Florida law, once someone is over 18, no one has the legal authority to make decisions on that person’s behalf. Should an adult become unable to make decisions for themselves, they would require guardianship. This can be a costly and time-consuming process. However, a properly executed power of attorney can avoid the need for an expensive guardianship.
Additionally, estate law in Florida states that those who die without a will must have relevant assets passed to relatives under “intestate succession” laws. These laws allow the probate courts to pass assets to relatives according to a listed priority. There is no consideration for the unique circumstances of each beneficiary, and beneficiaries who are not related to the decedent are left out entirely. Disputes over this form of inheritance can also slow the probate process.
At the Law Offices of Brett D. Bevis, we believe everyone should have at least basic estate planning documents, no matter how old or how big their estate is. Our Florida estate planning lawyers work with clients to make sure their estate plan meets their needs in an affordable way. We can create anything from a basic to complex estate plan customized for you.
I Have an Estate Plan, Do I Need to Update it?
At the Law Offices of Brett D. Bevis, we believe in treating your estate plan as an annual physical. This means you should check it annually to ensure that insurance beneficiaries, retirement accounts, and heirs on payable upon death accounts are still appropriate.
The following factors can dramatically impact an existing estate plan:
- Client divorce
- Adult children or another beneficiary divorce
- Death of a spouse, child, or another beneficiary of an estate plan
- Birth of a special needs grandchild
- A family member newly qualifies for a governmental benefit
- Serious medical diagnosis
- Purchase or sale of a home or business
- Moving between states
- Purchasing investment or vacation property in another state
Florida is the primary or secondary home to many retirees who have completed estate plans in another state. We regularly review estate plans that comport with Florida law. However, we also encounter some that may pose significant barriers or additional and costly work to admit a will into probate. It is always wise for a probate attorney to review an estate plan, ensuring it will accomplish one’s goals under Florida law.
At the Law Offices of Brett D. Bevis, we review ongoing or prior clients’ estate plans. Welcome the opportunity to assist new clients in reviewing their previously drafted plans at an affordable rate.
Estate Planning with Special Needs in Florida
Preparing a proper estate plan is particularly important for families who have children or loved ones with special needs. Without a properly drafted estate plan, family members with special needs may inherit property disqualifying them from government benefits. The loss of benefits can be devastating to families and force families to reapply, which can be time-consuming.
Our attorneys are is passionate about protecting individuals with special needs; drafting estate plans that follow state and federal law. Our attorneys can help clients obtain and maintain government benefits for loved ones with special needs.
Florida Estate Law and Children Turning 18
Parents are often surprised to learn that when their child turns 18, they no longer have a right to the child’s medical or educational information. Yet, generally, an 18-year-old continues to rely on a parent’s guidance and financial and medical support. Execution of a power of attorney by the child to provide agency to a parent or parents is critical, particularly if the child becomes injured or ill.
Ensuring Family Funds Stay in the Family
Ensuring family funds stay in the family is an important goal for those who want to pass their estates onto their children. Many families want to avoid the possibility of misuse or litigation of assets should an adult child divorce or develop mental health issues that impact asset management. Or, the clients may want to only disburse income to their children, with the principal going to grandchildren.
It is crucial to candidly discuss any asset protection concerns with our estate attorneys. This way, we can design the most effective means to direct assets so they stay within the family or are otherwise directed according to your interests.
Some misconceptions about the distribution of family assets include:
- Believing that all or part of an estate’s assets will be seized by the government. This can lead the owner to self-diagnose and create documents that cannot be enforced.
- Assuming that, no matter what, a spouse inherits everything.
- Thinking that having one child on a bank account along with directions to that child to share everything equally will effectively distribute their estate. This can actually create tax consequences that would not have been present with the correct estate planning.
- Believing that only the spouse who earns the income needs to have a will. Therefor, it is unnecessary for the non-earning spouse to have a will.
- Creating an IRA or other pension designations for heirs and/or a life insurance policy, but different beneficiaries on wills or trusts. IRAs and insurance plans always override what is written in a will.
These and other misconceptions can lead to termination of relationships between family members. It can also lead to the payment of non-required debts. Worst of all, assets may not be distributed according to the wishes of the individual who earned them.
The most troubling cases we see are where mistaken impressions about trusts created with a first spouse lead to the disinheritance of adult children. There are also cases where adult children seek to disinherit second spouses, ignoring statutory rights for surviving spouses.
Awareness of all family and business dynamics can lead to peace of mind and, more important, correct results and happier families. In-fighting after the death of a family member is avoidable with proper planning and understanding of legal responsibilities.
Long-Term Relationships and Estate Planning
Many couples choose to stay together in a long-term, loving relationship without marriage. They assume they will be able to make medical and financial decisions for their partners. The sudden death of a partner may leave the survivor without a home, income, or any estate legal status.
These couples can benefit from a candid discussion and disclosure of assets and concerns. We can help you ensure that a loved one of choice is eligible to legally make medical and financial decisions. We can also help you ensure your surviving loved one is able to maintain the home after your passing.
To learn more about how our estate planning lawyers in Longwood can help you, please call us today at (321) 972-2445.