Do you need an Estate Plan?

Written by: Nataline Garcia, Esq.

Many clients question whether or not an estate plan is necessary. I always ask if either of the following applies to them, and if so, than the answer should be an immediate “YES!”

1. Do you have children or dependent minors?

Specifically, your estate plan allows you to select a guardian for your children or dependent minors. In the event both parents die simultaneously, it is of great importance to name a guardian in your estate plan to decide who you would like to be responsible to make decisions for your children. When deciding on a guardian, parents should take into account numerous factors such as the proximity of the proposed guardian to their children, their lifestyles and their financial situation. If you do not select a guardian, the Court’s will have the inherit power to make that selection for you.

2. Do you want to control the disposition of your assets after your passing?

If you pass away without an estate plan in place, the Florida laws of intestacy will govern your assets; Florida Chapter 732 would govern and direct who should obtain your assets after your passing, not you. This often leads to disagreements between family members and costly adverse probate proceedings.

3. Do you own a business and wish to engage in business succession planning?

Building a business is hard work. Planning for that business’s continuation after you retire or pass away may be even harder. A succession plan is something that is very specific to each business. There are various elements that may work for one family business and not another. A succession plan allows for a smooth transition to ensure your business and legacy will be passed on to the next generation or key employees at ease. A business succession planning can provide security for your surviving spouse or beneficiaries while reducing taxes due on business and asset transfers.

4. Do you have philanthropic goals?

With the use of an estate plan, you can provide for the well-being of your loved ones and continue any philanthropic goals you have set out to accomplish with a thoughtful estate plan that includes a donor-advised fund account. A donor-advised fund makes it easy for your loved ones to make grant recommendations to the charities you valued during your lifetime.

5. Do you want to control disposition of your assets after your passing?

If you pass away without an estate plan in place, the Florida laws of intestacy will govern your assets; Florida Chapter 732 would govern and direct who should obtain your assets after your passing, not you. This often leads to disagreements between family members and adverse costly probate proceedings.

6. Do you want to minimize probate costs and protect your privacy?

Probate costs can really add up, it can be expensive, between attorney’s fees and court costs, and time consuming. Yet, in most cases, probate is easy to avoid – simply contact an attorney and prepare your estate plan. Secondly, Florida probate records are public court records that anyone can read, as opposed to your estate plan, which remains completely confidential. 

People may, understandably so, feel overwhelmed discussing the topic of death and estate planning. Becoming informed and educated on the topic may ease that feeling of panic and uneasiness. Ultimately, taking the step to having an estate plan will provide you with comfort knowing your loved ones, future interests, business interests and philanthropic goals are protected. If you wish to discuss this topic or learn more, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A., at 305-227-4030 or via email at legal@raygarcialaw.com for a free consultation.