Estate Planning Lawyer in Ocala, Florida
Depending on your current life situation, you may not be thinking a lot about drafting a will or establishing a trust. However, no matter what your age is or how many assets you have, everyone should be looking at their options for estate planning. Whether you’re already retired or just starting your career, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand your choices and come up with a plan that fits your needs and your budget.
If you’re in the Ocala, Florida, area or anywhere in Marion County, and would like to speak with an attorney about starting an estate plan, call me, Michael A. Siefert, P.A., today. I’ve dedicated my practice for over 20 years to helping people with all their estate and probate needs, and I can help you, too. Give me a call today to chat.
Why Estate Planning Is Important
No two estate plans are the same because no two people are the same. Estate plans can be simple, including only a will, or they can be much more complex, including trusts, powers of attorney, guardianship designations, or beneficiary designations.
Many people incorrectly think of estate plans as only for elderly people, but in reality, they can be an indispensable tool no matter your age, health status, or degree of wealth. The truth is, none of us know what will happen tomorrow or in our future, and the best thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones is make a plan ahead of time.
If you do become incapacitated or pass away without a will (known as dying intestate), you’re leaving the burden of sorting through your estate to your family and loved ones. This could mean going through the lengthy and costly process of probate, which can result in family infighting. Also, without an estate plan, you could end up forcing loved ones to make decisions about your medical care without your input.
By preparing upfront, you’re allowing your family to grieve without the added responsibility of trying to figure out what you would have wanted. With an estate plan in place, you’ll know that your wishes are laid out clearly and that all your assets have been accounted for and will be distributed to your named beneficiaries.
Documents That May Be
Included in an Estate Plan
The backbone of any estate plan is a will, and this is typically where most people start. And, while having a will is infinitely better than having no plan at all, it can sometimes be insufficient. A will can name beneficiaries and assign guardianship for any minor children but still needs to go through probate and will not protect your assets like a trust can.
You may choose to put your assets in a living trust so that when you pass away your trustee can easily manage your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries. You will also retain control over your trust while you’re still living, meaning you can move assets in and out of it and change your beneficiaries.
Two other important documents you may wish to include are a power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive. Choosing a power of attorney is a big decision as this person will be responsible for making financial decisions on your behalf. An advance healthcare directive lays out your healthcare wishes and usually includes a living will and a medical power of attorney. This document can include your wishes for end-of-life care, surgical options, and treatment plans.
How Your Attorney Can Help
If you’re just starting to look at your estate planning options, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed by all your choices. An experienced attorney will take the time to truly understand your specific needs and then find the right solution to meet them. Furthermore, you’ll want to ensure your estate plan is legally enforceable which can drastically reduce family in-fighting. A carefully prepared and well-written estate plan will ensure a smoother transition and will help your executor make better choices to act on your behalf.
You may also want to hire an attorney to help with trust or probate administration. Even if you’ve chosen a responsible executor or a judge has assigned an administrator, they’ll likely still need help with these processes.
Facing your own mortality is never an easy task, but it is a necessary one. Part of this is taking a realistic look at what will become of your assets and property after you pass and what your wishes are if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. A comprehensive estate plan can address all these things and give you and your family peace of mind knowing that several major decisions have already been made.
Estate Planning Attorney
Serving Ocala, Florida
For help with any stage of estate planning, even if you only have questions at this point, call Michael A. Siefert, P.A. today to schedule an appointment. I’m proud to serve those in and around Ocala, Florida, as well as throughout Marion County. Let’s start the conversation about your estate planning needs.