Determining what your legacy will be is up to you. At Veliz Katz Law, we can work with you to develop an estate plan that will protect your family and your legacy during your lifetime, and once you're gone. Legacy planning also involves determining the values and principles you'd like to pass on to your heirs and your community, whether that means ensuring that all of your grandchildren go to college or emphasizing charitable giving. Legacy planning can help you prioritize your goals in your estate plan.
Developing a Comprehensive Legacy Plan
Developing a comprehensive legacy plan doesn't just involve figuring out how to transfer your wealth to your heirs upon your death. It also involves a life plan, determining how to ensure you and your family's standard of living into the future, planning out charitable giving, as well as protecting your assets for your heirs. Legacy planning can help you:
- Provide support and financial support for your spouse;
- Preserve assets for future generations;
- Minimize taxes and probate expenses;
- Ensure your heirs receive your assets according to your wishes;
- Support your favorite charities or causes; and
- Ensure individuals you trust to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
Last Will & Testament
Your will is the base of your estate plan. If you die intestate or without a will, Florida law will determine your estate's distribution, and the court will appoint an executor. Your will directs who will administer your estate, under what circumstances, and to whom. Whether you die with or without a will, some of your assets may need to go through probate. In probate, a court supervises your estate's distribution. However, assets with a joint owner or direct beneficiary and assets in a living trust may avoid probate.
An advanced health care directive provides instructions to your doctor and your family about end of life care. Also called a living will, a health care directive delineates the types of life-saving care you are willing to undergo if you can't explain your wishes yourself. A declaration of a health care surrogate is another type of advanced directive recognized in Florida. This directive allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot do so.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney can allow someone else to make medical or financial decisions if you become incapacitated. There can be limits to how you can use or enforce a power of attorney, however. So, it's a good idea to ensure that you work with an attorney to develop a comprehensive estate plan.
Trusts in Florida
Trusts in Florida can be revocable, meaning the trust owner or grantor can change the terms, assets, and beneficiaries of the trust. The grantor cannot change the terms of an irrevocable trust. Once placed in an irrevocable trust, the assets are there to stay, and the administrator can only distribute them according to the terms of the trust.
Totten Trust: A Totten trust is one of the simplest trusts to create. It gets its name from a 1904 trust case in New York. This trust is simply a payable-on-death account at a bank or financial institution that passes to the beneficiary upon the grantor's death.
Living Trust: A living trust is a popular trust to avoid probate or estate taxes. The grantor places assets within the trust, naming themselves as the trustee. The terms of the living trust can also name a new trustee should the owner die, allowing the trustee to distribute income or assets from the trust to the beneficiaries.
Charitable Trust: A charitable trust is a philanthropic trust, but the organization inheriting it is not exempt from taxes on that portion of the estate. It can, however, reduce the taxes of the creator or grantor of the trust.
Life Insurance Trust: A life insurance trust is an irrevocable trust funded with the proceeds from a life insurance policy upon the grantor's death. A life insurance trust is a good option for children who are minors. In Florida, minors can’t inherit property in their name. An adult must manage the inheritance for them until they reach at least 18.
There are many different trusts that you can utilize in your legacy planning, including those that last dictate how the beneficiaries may use the assets and even skipping generations. Good estate law planning is never “one size fits all.” At Veliz Law, we can tailor your estate plan to the needs of you and your family, ensuring your lasting legacy. Contact us online or call us at 407-849-7072 today to schedule a consultation.