Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning

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Making difficult decisions now about your will and estate will eliminate the burden from your loved ones having to make decisions later. This process is often known as Estate Planning. A will is a necessary document to protect the interest of both you and your family. A personal guardian for your minor children can be legally identified in a will. This document also states how you want your property distributed among your heirs and beneficiaries and lists gifts to other family members or friends, charitable donations and other financial arrangements. Without a will, interstate laws determine the division of your estate upon your death.

A Living Will is a legal document that informs health care providers and your family about the decisions you’ve made regarding life prolonging medical treatments in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. Generally, a living will clarifies what medical treatments you do or do not want applied to you in the event you suffer from a terminal illness or enter into a permanent vegetative state in order to prolong your life. A Health Care Surrogate Designation provides a way to select a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to do so. This important tool can preserve not only your rights, but the rights of your loved ones to visit you in the hospital and participate in your care.

Guardians are court-appointed decision makers for minors and adults incapable of making decisions for themselves. The least restrictive form of guardianship is the intent of the court. Guardians for minors are appointed by the court when the minor’s parents become incapacitated or die or if the minor receives a sum of money exceeding the amount allowed by law from an inheritance, proceeds from a lawsuit or insurance policy. Adult guardianships may be voluntary or involuntary depending on the adult’s level of competency to manage his or her own self or estate. An adult who is mentally competent, but unable to manage his or her own estate may voluntarily petition for the appointment of a guardian. Limited guardianships can be appointed if the court finds the adult has the abilities to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her person or property. Adults who are found to be incapable of managing themselves or their estates and are found to be mentally incapacitated are appointed plenary guardians. All guardianships are subject to court oversight.

A trust is an estate planning tool. A trust is the management of property or assets. The person who creates the trust is the grantor. The grantor appoints a person or entity to manage their trust on their behalf—this person is called the trustee. The person who benefits from the trust is called the beneficiary. There may be multiple beneficiaries to a trust. Since trusts do not go through the probate process, beneficiaries may access assets quicker than if simply stipulated in a will. There are a number of different types of trusts available. Choosing the right one should be done with the guidance of an attorney with estate planning experience.

At Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, we customize our estate planning services to your individual family’s specific needs. We will help guide you through the complex estate planning process. Our Will and Estate Planning services include:

  • Wills
  • Guardianships
  • Estate tax planning
  • Living wills
  • Health care powers of attorneys
  • Business succession planning
  • Trusts, revocable / irrevocable
  • Probate matters

If you already have a will, but it was written out of state, it is advisable to let a Florida attorney review it to ensure compliance with Florida law. Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz have been helping clients for over 50 years with their estate planning needs.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise over the distribution of assets after someone’s death. Our attorneys also handle Probate Litigation and Trust Disputes. We have handled cases involving undue influence, conversion of assets, breach of fiduciary duties, and beneficiary designations. If you have a problem related to how a will or trust is being administered our attorneys can help.

Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A. has six offices in Southwest Florida. The offices are located in Fort Myers (two offices to serve you), Cape Coral, Naples, Lehigh Acres, and Port Charlotte for your convenience. Call us first at 800-332-9404 or fill out a simple case form today.