Deeds, Wills And Trust, Oh My!

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What is the best way to plan?

As the Covid 19 pandemic continues, many people are thinking about or revising their estate planning needs.  There is not a one shoe fits all when it comes to your assets and planning.  It is good to know that there are several affordable options. 

Here is an overview:

 1.  Enhanced Life Estate Deed a/k/a the Lady Bird Deed:  This is a quick and inexpensive way to ensure that your real property is left to your beneficiary.   Under this method, you keep complete control of your property.  You can take out a mortgage or modify it, rent the property, and even sell the property all on your own and without your beneficiaries knowledge or permission.  The great feature of this method is that it avoids probate.  When you die, your death certificate is recorded and then the property is automatically vested in the beneficiary.  Another consideration would be to name an alternate beneficiary to the life estate in the event that the first beneficiary pre-deceases you.

The Lady Bird deed should be prepared by a real estate attorney to include all of the correct verbiage to made the intent effective.  It is important that the deed be properly witnessed, notarized and recorded in the public record in a timely manner.  When we prepare a deed for a client,  we can utilize remote online notarization (RON) so that you can sign from the comfort of your home or you can come to one of our 7 convenient offices.  We also utilize online recording to insure that the deed is recorded quickly and efficiently.

2. The Will Package:  Everyone should have a will, a power of attorney, a living will (pull the plug),  personal property memorandum, and a health care surrogate directive.   Most people simply put this off as they feel it is burdensome and makes you have to commit to a plan.  Especially if you have minor children, this is important as you can designate their guardian in your will.

We have made a way to put this all together in an easy way.  We start with an initial phone call to gather all the pertinent information and ask you questions to determine who you want to administer  your estate, the beneficiaries, etc.

The personal property memorandum is a great feature that keeps your disposition of personal property fluid and eliminates the need to change your will.  Basically, it is a list of personal property that you can designate each item to a beneficiary.  The will sets forth that this document exists and you can change it on your own as you acquire  or dispose of personal property items (art work, jewelry, collectables, etc.)

Then we draft the package and e mail it to you for your review.  We will have a phone conference  to answer any questions and make any changes. You can then come to one of our 7 offices or it can be signed virtually online.

I must warn all of you DIY’s out there.  Many people feel they can just play lawyer and do this themselves by googling and finding a blank form or use   a fill in the blank low cost service.  WARNING:  many of the online forms  and services may not be incompliance with Florida law and if not executed correctly, may not be enforceable.  These generic forms can be confusing and may result in your estate not going to who you intended.  Here is a real situation.  A client approached us to probate her sisters will.  She told us that the sister  had a will drafted and wanted her estate to be left to the sister.  She was a widow with an adult son that had a history of drug abuse.  The sister was going to sell the home an assets and then give the son an allowance.  Well, the sister used an online will generator that she paid $99 and she inadvertently left everything to the son.  The probate court awarded the assets of the estate to the son.  He sold the $250,000 home, kept the cars and the cash.  Six months later, all the money and assets were gone.

It is so important that you have properly drafted documents.

3.  Trusts:  The question is, Do you really need a trust?  Maybe.  Many people have trusts drafted and they really don’t need one.  If you have a large complicated estate, then of course yes.  There are other alternatives: the Lady Bird Deed or possibly creating a trust within your will that will become effective upon your death.

We work closely with your financial advisor and CPA to be sure that this route is best for you.  We then analyze how you want your assets distributed and managed.  Also, just as important is:  who will your designate as the Trustee to manage the assets and naming a successor trustee.

We are here to help and guide you

No matter which route you decide, we can help guide you in the right direction; and just as important, it will be to achieve your estate planning goals in the most thorough and cost efficient manner.  Call us at 407-423-1700 or e mail us at [email protected]

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