Estate Planning 101

Credit: JS Law

Estate planning is the process that ensures one’s property and assets are distributed precisely how one wishes. As a result, getting it wrong can cause tax consequences, legal implications, and other legal issues. That is precisely why one should be familiar with the estate planning before they embark on this journey. With documents like powers of attorney, trusts, wills, living wills, do-not-resuscitate orders, and more, one needs the assistance of a qualified elder law attorney to make sure everything is correct.

When many people think of estate planning, wills and trusts come to mind first. This is, of course, a major part of estate planning, though they are each more involved and complex than one might initially think.

Credit: Orlowsky and Wilson

Trusts are essential to helping one avoid probate, which is the court process by which a person’s assets and property are distributed. Probate requires mandatory court involvement to distribute the assets, which can be costly and time consuming. States like Florida impose statutory fees for administering estates through probate, which comes directly out of the estate and out of the hands of the beneficiaries. Trusts allow for the smooth and private handling of asset distribution, skipping the court involvement.

There are several types of trusts one might find useful. Revocable (or living) trusts are created during the grantor’s lifetime and can be amended or even revoked. However, they will not help the grantor qualify for Medicaid in the event they require long-term care in a nursing home. Irrevocable trusts, as the name implies, can not be revoked, altered, or terminated during the grantor’s lifetime. A special needs trust helps protect the grantor or a loved one in the event of disability. Age, health, and financial situations are all key factors in determining which trust is best for the grantor.

Credit: Strohschein Law Group

Wills do not protect one from the probate process, but they do clearly, straightforwardly list the grantor’s wishes upon death. The best way to avoid probate is to have a trust, and then have a “pour over will,” which acts as a catch-all to distribute assets outside the trust.

There isn’t one catch-all estate plan that works well for everyone. The best way to have one’s affairs in order is to work with a qualified professional. Estate planning attorneys in West Palm Beach work with some of the highest populations of seniors in the country, making them prepared to take on just about any case.

Shalloway & Shalloway is the top elder law firm in Palm Beach County. Firm president Mark Shalloway is among the charter class of elder law attorneys, and he has dedicated his entire career to supporting this community. Clients are often blown away by the support and care he provides, and his ability to speak about complex topics in “plain English.”

I have worked with Shalloway and Shalloway for many years,” one client says. “Mark and his team are fantastic with their clients. Working with Brooke and Jeremy has been a breathe of fresh air. I recommend their services for estate and medicaid planning as they are on top of all the latest changes.”

For more information on the firm and their services, call (561) 686-6200, fill out this form, or visit their offices.

1400 Centrepark Blvd Suite #600, West Palm Beach, FL 33401