The term estate planning can encompass a number of different legal instruments and concepts


Generally, estate planning can be broken into two distinct categories: (1) estate planning for physical and/or mental incapacity; and (2) estate planning for death.

Many people would rather do almost anything rather than sit down and establish their estate plan, even though they know they recognize the value of having one in place. When a person makes the decision to put an estate plan into place, they often find themselves confronted with a number of tough questions right at the outset. Who will administer my affairs and distribute my assets when I am no longer able to do it myself? Will the family business continue to provide for my loved ones after I am gone? Will a portion of my estate have to be used to pay taxes and if so how much?

What Should I Be Planning?

When planning for physical or mental incapacity, there are several important legal documents which are considered necessary to properly create a basic estate plan:

Besides planning for physical or mental incapacity, a good estate plan should also plan for death through the use of the following legal instruments:
Last Will and Testament – A will contains a written set of instructions to the decedent’s representatives and beneficiaries as to how they want their estate to be handled after death. Many find that the biggest drawback of using a will to dictate the distribution of their assets is that the property must go through the probate process before the beneficiaries will be able to take legal control of it. In Florida, the assistance of an attorney and the consent of a judge is required for successful probate administration and these requirements often lead to higher cost and delay. The use of a revocable living trust can help to avoid this undesirable complication.
Revocable Living Trust – A revocable living trust can be used to plan for both mental disability and death in one document. This type of trust allows the individual, as trustee, to control their property while still alive and mentally competent. If the individual later becomes mentally disabled, a successor trustee may manage their finances until such time as they are restored to competency. If the individual dies, then they may designate the person of their choice to distribute their assets to their beneficiaries. Another benefit of using a Revocable Living Trust as part of an estate plan is that the beneficiaries will be able to gain quick and easy access to the estate assets after death since all property held in the trust will avoid court-supervised probate.

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