Tampa Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts
When it comes to hiring an estate planning lawyer in Tampa, many people are hesitant because they don’t want to think about their own death or losing a loved one. But estate planning is crucial to making sure you and your loved ones are taken care of while you are here and after you’re gone. Two of the best instruments to do that are wills and trusts.
Wills and trusts form the foundation of most estate plans, with much of the direction for your affairs coming from them. Wills and trusts are critical to how your finances and possessions will be distributed so that your family can focus on celebrating your legacy.
How Does a Tampa Estate Planning Lawyer Protect My Assets?
Estate planning refers to the process of officially documenting how your assets and affairs will be managed and distributed upon your death or in the event of physical or mental disability or incapacity. The process can achieve a variety of different outcomes but is mainly used for the following:
- Deciding who inherits your property/assets;
- Protecting your children and ensuring they are cared for;
- Appointing someone you trust as a personal representative;
- Providing for surviving loved ones;
- Reducing disputes among beneficiaries and conflicts over who gets what;
- Avoiding or minimizing estate/inheritance, gift, and other taxes for your beneficiaries;
- Avoiding the probate process – saving time and money for loved ones;
- Planning for life’s uncertainties; and
- Protecting investments, interests, and property/assets from lawsuits and unknown creditors.
While estate planning encompasses a wide range of documents and tools you can use, wills and trusts are the most common places to start.
There are several practical reasons to have a will, regardless of your financial circumstances. Having a Tampa estate planning attorney draft a will accomplishes the following goals:
- Puts You In Control – The biggest benefit of a will is that it gives you and your family a plan to deal with the unexpected. Wills control the distribution of your belongings after your death, allowing you to declare exactly what you want to do with them and giving you the freedom to name specific beneficiaries. Also, wills allow you to select the personal representative (executor) who will distribute your assets upon your death.
- Allows You To Donate – Having a will in place is a great way to make one last charitable donation to causes or organizations that have been important in your life. You can determine an exact dollar amount or percentage of your assets that go to the group or organization, and you many even be able to direct them on how to use your gift.
- Helps With The Grieving Process – The grieving process can sometimes be contentious, especially when there are concerns over the disposition of expensive assets and finances. Having a will removes any uncertainty and can let your loved ones focus on supporting each other through the grieving process.
Our Clients Say...
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
What Is a Will?
A will – technically a “last will and testament” – is a legal document in which you direct how you would like your property/assets to be distributed at the time of your death. The will does not go into effect until you pass away and can be revoked at any time.
If you pass away and don’t have a will, Florida law governs who gets your property/assets (known as dying “intestate”).
Usually, with no will in place, Florida law provides for your spouse and/or children to take priority and inherit your belongings, however, this requires a judicial determination of who gets what and what percentages are distributed.
If you don’t have a spouse or children, dying without a will makes the distribution of your property/assets after death much more complicated.
A trustworthy Tampa estate lawyer can answer your questions and draft the will terms are right for you and accurately reflect exactly what you want. No matter how you wish to distribute your property/assets, having a will in place will simplify the process for your loved ones and protect your legacy after you pass.
What Is a Trust?
Trusts are legal arrangements where you transfer your property/assets into the trust and name a trustee to manage and oversee their distribution.
People establishing a trust (“grantors”) commonly name themselves as trustee of their own trust, which allows them to use and control their property/assets while they’re still alive. If you choose this route, you should name a successor trustee to manage your trust after you pass away or become incapacitated.
There are many different types of trusts that are used to accomplish specific goals, but they typically fall into two categories:
- Revocable – Trusts that can be changed or revoked entirely by the grantor. Once established, the grantor controls the property/assets by serving as trustee.
- Irrevocable – Trusts that cannot be changed except under specific conditions or pursuant to a court order. If the trust is irrevocable, the grantor typically surrenders his or her right to control the property/assets.
Some specialized sub-types of trusts frequently used in Florida include:
- Asset Protection Trusts;
- Charitable Trusts;
- Special Needs Trusts; and
- Medicaid Planning Trusts.
An estate planning attorney can help you determine which trust or trusts are appropriate for your unique situation.
Is a Will or Trust Better for Me?
Deciding if a will or trust is best for you is highly dependent on your situation.
Generally, trusts are better suited for someone with a significant or complex inheritance and/or family assets to distribute and for people who have a keen interest in avoiding probate. Financially speaking, setting up a trust is more involved and expensive than a will but offers several legal benefits in the asset protection and distribution arenas.
In a more straightforward setting, a will could be sufficient for many people. Using a will and other estate planning tools may allow people to avoid probate without the extra expense of preparing a trust.
Schedule Your Tampa Estate Planning Consultation
Tampa Estate Planning Guidance You Can Trust
Regardless of whether you choose a will, trust, or both, the experienced Tampa estate planning lawyers at Robert Sharp Attorneys can help you make the best decision for you and your loved ones.
Our firm is dedicated to ensuring your affairs are in order by helping you draft detailed wills and living trusts for your estate.
Make sure your assets are protected and your family is provided for once you’re gone by contacting us today to set up an initial consultation.