Just about everyone has an “estate” whether they realize it or not. To name a few examples, your estate includes your car, home, bank accounts, life insurance, and investments—and no matter how large or how modest—it is all part of your estate. An estate plan is a written, legally binding plan that addresses who gets your property when you pass away. But estate planning goes beyond what happens to your possessions when you pass away: it also involves steps to prepare for incapacity and illness. Estate planning is ultimately taking care of your loved ones by taking care of yourself.
If you do not have a plan, Florida law has one for you. And it may not match your wishes. A plan that avoids probate will save your family money, minimizing stress on your loved ones, preventing family disputes after your death, and ensuring your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes. Additionally, the durable power of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, and living will are important so that you have control over who is making your financial and medical decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself. Otherwise, the Court will decide in a potentially expensive and unpleasant guardianship action.
Probate administration is the process that occurs after a person dies by which his or her estate is “settled.” In a nutshell this means:
Probate assets are all of the assets that a person owns in his or her individual name at death. A will determines the distribution of those assets. If the decedent did not have a will, then Florida’s laws of intestacy are applied.
A will also names the person the decedent selected to administer the decedent’s estate. That is the person who performs the above process. This person is referred to as “personal representative” in Florida. The person representative must file the will with the court and petition to open the process of probate. When the petition is granted, the process of probate officially begins. In Florida, you must hire an attorney to probate an estate. The only exceptions are if you are an attorney or if you are trying to get reimbursed for paying funeral expenses.
The personal representative must first give notice of the estate administration. This notice must be given to all parties who have an interest in the estate. The personal representative is responsible for paying any claims made against the estate from the assets within the estate, and must pay these claims before distributing anything to the beneficiaries. The personal representative will also be responsible for filing income tax returns and, if necessary, estate tax returns on behalf of the decedent and the decedent’s estate.
After all requirements have been satisfied, the personal representative may begin to distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
At Cuturic Law, our mission is to help guide our clients who are dealing with dementia through the maze of the aging network (community or government agencies, healthcare providers, and other organizations who meet the needs of elderly populations). In keeping with our legal team’s focus, we aim to become the go-to law firm in Florida related to legal and financial planning for dementia. Our mission is to help clients and their families get answers to their questions and find the help they need.
At Cuturic Law, we can help you:
The first step towards security and ease about your future care is to schedule a consultation with us today.