The coronavirus crisis reminds us of how vulnerable we are and how important it is to have a well-drafted estate plan in place. The incredible severity of the Covid-19 epidemic has been a wake-up call for many people who have been putting off drafting or updating their estate plans. We never know what tomorrow brings, so it’s important to stop procrastinating.
A good estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed to family and friends as intended. You decide how your assets are distributed, to whom, and in what conditions. Having a good estate plan also reduces the risk of further legal problems. What’s more, estate litigation in Miami is a great choice for people who want to reduce costs related to asset distribution. Your estate won’t go through probate, so the entire process becomes much easier.
So what does an estate plan include? How can trust and estate litigation in Miami help distribute your assets?
Last will, testament, or trust?
A will or a testament is a legal document that lets you specify which individuals receive your money and property. You can also name a guardian to care for your children and other dependents, in case you are unable to do so anymore. Wills, however, have multiple limitations. They are only effective after you pass away and you cannot include other details related to your assets.
Trusts, specifically revocable living trusts, are legal documents that provide more flexibility. You can name yourself as a trustee and continue to use and control your money and properties. You have full control of your assets, as long as you live, but you still have the benefits of a will or a testament. You can name a co-trustee or a successor trustee who can manage your properties or money in case you become incapacitated or too ill to take care of yourself. Also, you can specify the beneficiaries of your trust and how the funds are distributed after you pass away. Furthermore, you can transfer all your assets into the trust in order to avoid the complicated probate process (which can be very expensive, time-consuming, and public). When it comes to estate litigation in Miami, trusts are probably your best choice, considering their amazing flexibility, adaptability, and privacy.
Trusts are very varied, and you can choose the type of trust that suits your needs best. For instance, there are specific trusts for protecting assets, for limiting or eliminating taxes or providing children with special needs.
What happens if you don’t have a will or a trust?
If you don’t have a trust or a will, where you specify your beneficiaries and how your assets are distributed after you die, the estate will go into the state intestacy statute, who will determine how the assets are distributed. This process, also known as probate, is not optimal for many people. The major disadvantage is the distribution of assets – your money and property will be distributed according to state laws, not according to your needs or preferences. In addition, the whole process will go through a court, a process that can be very time-consuming and costly. What’s more, the court will have to appoint a guardian or a conservator to care for the children; this person is likely not the person you would have chosen. Make sure to have a trust or a will in place in order to avoid these problems during trust and estate litigation in Miami.
Powers of attorney
The power of attorney is another major advantage of estate litigation in Miami. This document lets you name the people who can make decisions on your behalf if something happens to you or you become incapacitated. The powers of attorney work even if you are married – your spouse will not have the authority to make decisions on your behalf without having the proper documentation.
The powers of attorney will let the person make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. For instance, your business will be handled by this person. Also, you can decide the limitations of the powers of attorney. For instance, you can limit the person to just pay the bills, or you can grant full rights to the person. It’s important to know that it’s your choice – you decide what happens in case you become incapacitated.
The health care directive
This is a special document that is another major advantage of trust and estate litigation in Miami. This document lets you choose a trusted person (family or non-family) as your agent that can make medical decisions on your behalf. This is important if you become incapacitated or are a victim of an accident (this is very helpful if you cannot communicate with the medical team). The agent should know your preferences in case a medical emergency occurs. Because of this, it’s very important to communicate your wishes to this person, before anything happens. You should be as open as possible about your medical condition: possible chronic diseases, treatments that you need, treatments that you don’t want, religious convictions, and other relevant information. The health directive should include detailed information about your wishes for the end of your life. For instance, you should mention whether you want to be placed on life support, for how long and in what circumstances. This document is very important and intimate – always choose a close person as your medical agent.
The health directive can be used as a guideline for your memorial services after you pass away. It provides information to your family and friends about your wishes, the people you want to notify, the instructions regarding your remains, and the information you want in your obituary. If you don’t provide this information, your family will wonder what your wishes were and may create a lot of confusion during those difficult moments. This will lead to unnecessary stress, conflict, and legal issues, which are particularly problematic considering the emotional turmoil created after your death.
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