Every person who is a legal citizen of the United States possesses an estate. In the context of the law, the estate is the aggregate total of assets one leaves behind at the time of their death.
There is a general misconception that only the wealthiest or oldest Americans need an estate plan. Everyone has an estate, so everyone requires estate planning. However, not just any estate plan will suffice. Your estate plan needs to be customized to your unique circumstances and desires. It does not matter if you plan on leaving everything you own to a charity, your children, your grandchildren, or a spouse, in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Largo, or elsewhere. You need an experienced Clearwater estate planning attorney on your side.
Customized Estate Planning Legal Services
Developing your unique estate plan requires more than a draft of a generic will or trust. Sylvia Noel White strives to turn your vision for your estate planning into a feasible reality.
What Every Estate Plan Should Contain
An estate plan incorporates the necessary legal instruments to ensure ample protection of what you have worked so hard to obtain. This is not only for your estate in question, but your legacy as well. A Clearwater estate planning attorney will assist in the drafting of a solid plan, but you hold all the power when it comes to making decisions. The arrangement your Clearwater estate planning attorney helps you craft may include the following:
● A Living Will
Living wills provide advance directives that guide medical care when an emergency occurs. This is a vital tool for estate planning in Clearwater, as it can keep family members from having to make tough decisions in the midst of a crisis. Your living will direct everyone from physicians to loved ones to the actions you desire to be implemented if you enter into an emergency situation.
● Last Will and Testament
A will, sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, is a written instrument that specifies how and in what manner a person’s estate is to be distributed upon their death. A person making a will is known as a testator (man) or testatrix (woman). Anyone designated to receive property under a will is called a beneficiary. A will can also be used to appoint a person responsible for distributing assets to the beneficiaries (personal representative), trustee, or guardian for minor children. A will does not provide any instructions or powers with respect to lifetime management of property.
A “trust” is a contract wherein one person (the trustee) manages and holds legal title to property owned by another (the settlor or grantor) for the benefit of a third party or parties (the beneficiary). The grantor is the individual who forms the trust and generally contributes property to the trust. The trustee is the individual or entity that administers the trust for the benefit of certain beneficiaries. The trustee must administer the trust property pursuant to the directions in the written trust agreement and has a fiduciary duty to the grantor and beneficiaries to carry out the intent of the grantor in a fair and reasonable manner. There are many kinds of trusts that may be created. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and may serve a multitude of purposes. The most common forms can be categorized as “living” trusts and “testamentary” trusts.
● Power of Attorney
A Durable Power Of Attorney provides an inexpensive, informal, non-judicial alternative for the management of the donor’s affairs. It permits someone to act when the donor becomes incapacitated, without having to establish a guardianship or a trust. Individuals and business institutions are under an obligation to honor a donee’s apparent authority to transact business for a donor when presented with a valid durable power of attorney. A donee has a fiduciary duty to act under the power of attorney solely in the best interests of the donor.
● Health Care Surrogate
The purpose of the “Health Care Surrogate” form is to designate who the principal wants to make health care decisions on the principal’s behalf in the event when he or she is unable to do so. The surrogate has authority to act for the principal and to make all health care decisions during the principal’s incapacity, to consult with appropriate health care providers, to provide informed consent, and to apply for public benefits. The surrogate may only make health care decisions for the principal which the surrogate believes the principal would have made under the circumstances.
● Asset Protection Plan
Asset protection plans direct the manner in which property is handled. Your specific desires for your legacy will be the top priority no matter what. This is an important tool for estate planning that empowers you to provide for family members as you see fit. An asset protection plan will also help stop beneficiaries from making poor decisions about the assets you worked so hard to earn.