Wills & Trusts Attorney
Thinking about your future and the future of your loved ones can be an emotional process. The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., understands this, and we are committed to helping you protect your financial legacy. We provide guidance in developing wills, trusts and estate plans tailored to the unique needs of each client. It is never too early to begin planning for the future. Plan now for the benefit or your loved ones and let The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., help you achieve the best estate planning needs.
Do you have the right set of wills and trusts in place to make sure your money and property get to where you want it to go after you are gone? If not, the state of Florida decides how to distribute your estate, which might not be the way you would prefer. The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., can create legal documents that reflect your wishes and give you peace of mind. Call our office for smart and effective estate planning in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Why Do I Need a Will?
If you die without a will, the probate court divides up your estate according to the Florida laws of intestate succession. These laws provide a procedure to distribute your property to a surviving spouse or other surviving descendants, including siblings, aunts and uncles, any of your kindred or your spouse’s kindred. In some cases, the state itself would be the entity that winds up with your property.
With a will, you decide who gets your property, and specifically who gets what. Rather than just dividing up your estate equally among your children or grandchildren, for example, you can make specific bequests to specific loved ones of a cherished piece of jewelry or other thing of value. In your will, you can also make gifts to people outside of your family, such as friends, caregivers or institutions such as your favorite charity, place of worship or alma mater. If you don’t have a will, you would have to rely on others to make these gifts on your behalf, with no guarantee they will do so.
Another vital reason to have a will is to appoint a guardian for any minor children you might leave behind if you pass unexpectedly. If neither parent is living, the state will decide who will care for your kids, whether it’s a close relative or the Office of Child Welfare taking over. You might think your children will have no lack of loving family to care for them, but without direction from you, those relatives could wind up fighting in court over who would make the best guardian. In your will, you show that you took the time to think this matter through and make the decision you wanted for your kids, which is your prerogative as a parent.
Drafting a will also allows you to nominate a person to serve as the executor of your estate. This is an important job, as the executor conducts numerous tasks required to shepherd your will through the Florida probate process and make sure your estate is closed successfully.
What Is a Trust?
In a revocable living trust, you transfer title to property you own to a person you name as trustee, who holds, invests or manages that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries you designate in the trust. At your death or a time of your choosing, title to the property moves from the trustee to the beneficiaries, who then own the property outright. Although a trust does not completely replace a will, there are many reasons to consider using one or more trusts as part of your overall estate planning. Common reasons to include a trust are:
Avoiding probate – Wills have to go through a process in court known as probate. The probate process can be lengthy – a year or more – and costly to the estate. Other property in the estate not included in the will must go through probate as well. Trust property, on the other hand, does not have to go through probate, because the assets were already taken out of the estate when the trust was created. Beneficiaries can receive their inheritance through a trust much more speedily than through probate, and without the added expense.
Maintaining privacy – Since probate is a legal proceeding conducted in the courts, the contents of a will become a matter of public record once the will is submitted to probate. Trusts, in contrast, are private documents and can remain so. If you feel the public has no business knowing about the size of your estate or where your money is going, using trusts can help you maintain that level of privacy.
Keeping Control – Many different kinds of trusts can be created for different purposes, allowing you to control how the money is received. For instance, you can put conditions on a trust to keep the property from being squandered by a beneficiary who is too young to handle a large inheritance, who is not good at managing money, or who is struggling with substance abuse issues. A trust can keep assets safe from attacks by creditors and lawsuits or getting lost in bankruptcy or divorce. A trust can also provide support for a beneficiary with special needs without jeopardizing their eligibility for government services.
The Wills, Trusts and Estate Plans You Need Are Only a Phone Call Away
For help drafting your estate planning documents including your will, living will, durable power of attorney and designation of health care surrogate in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties call The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A.