Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Wills And Trusts
When planning for the future, it is common to have many questions. At The Murphy Law Group, we are here to help you through all aspects of estate planning and elder law. Our lawyers are dedicated to guiding you through each step of the process so you can be sure your needs and goals will be met.
To learn more about wills and trusts, please see the questions and answers below. To discuss your specific concerns, contact The Murphy Law Group online or call our Sarasota office today at 941-584-9570 to schedule a free consultation.
What is a will?
A will is a legally binding document that is created in order to detail how you wish your estate to be handled, how your assets will be distributed and who is to take guardianship of minor children in the event of your death. There are many do-it-yourself types of wills available online, though it is best to work with an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney who knows what needs to be included in the document for it to be legal.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal agreement, often referred to as a fiduciary arrangement, for another person or entity (called a trustee) to hold designated assets on behalf of named beneficiaries or heirs. Many different types of trusts can be created to achieve a wide range of goals, such as provide for an individual with special needs, hold the assets of a life insurance policy, provide for a charitable organization, avoid estate taxes and probate, and generally protect assets and/or property for the future benefit of the designated individuals or entities. You do not have to be wealthy to benefit from a trust. Talking through the benefits of a trust with a knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand how a trust may fit into your comprehensive estate plan.
Do I need a will?
While it is not required that you have a will, having one makes things easier for your heirs and beneficiaries. Having a will also prevents the state from handling your estate. With your wishes for your assets specifically stated, there is no question about who gets what. So while you do not need a will, it is in your best interests to have one created with an estate planning lawyer’s help.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
Dying without a will in place is called dying “intestate.” If you die intestate, the state of Florida will oversee the payment of estate debts and taxes and the distribution of any remaining assets to heirs that are identified by the state. If you have minor children, the state will appoint a guardian for them. Overall, not having a will leaves your estate up to the letter of the law and will most likely not be handled in a way that you would have liked.
What is a living will?
In Florida, a living will is made up of two documents. The first is called an advance health care directive. This document specifically states how you wish to be medically cared for if you cannot express your wishes yourself. It can be as detailed as you want it to be and encompass all types of medical care for all types of serious, incapacitating conditions. The second document is called a medical power of attorney. In this document, you can name someone who is legally granted the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so due to an accident or illness.