Attorney Developing Lasting Estate Planning Solutions in Largo, Clearwater and St. Petersburg
Helping you prepare for the future
Only half of Americans have a will and other basic estate planning documents, and two-thirds of Americans have not executed a trust or other advanced estate-planning document. An estate planning attorney can put together a plan just for you in only a few visits to the office.
At The Charles Law Offices, we try to make estate planning as easy as possible. If you are convalescing or otherwise infirm, you do not even have to come to the office because an attorney comes to you.
During your free consultation, we can discuss with you the range of estate-planning options most appropriate to your situation. Thereafter we work with you to finalize your choices, and draft and execute the estate planning documents that are tailor-made to fit your needs.
Who needs an estate plan?
Everyone needs an estate plan, but the reasons differ depending on the family’s circumstances:
- Traditional families: Young families are often concerned with the guardianship and care of minor children should something unexpected happen. As families get older, the estate plan should be re-evaluated as asset protection and tax planning become more of a priority.
- Blended families: Many Florida couples who start a second or subsequent marriage on good financial footing enter into it with the idea that he will keep his assets, she will keep hers, and the children will inherit from the separate estates. What they don't know is that Florida inheritance law gives spouses certain rights, even if the spouse does not want to exercise those rights: Say the husband dies and the wife has become incapacitated. The wife’s agent under durable power of attorney or her court-appointed guardian must seek the spousal elective share for her benefit, even if she never intended to claim the share. A properly drafted pre-marital or post-marital agreement can prevent this situation from occurring.
- Domestic partnerships: Unmarried couples have no spousal inheritance rights during life or at death. Without proper estate planning documents, a catastrophic injury could land an unmarried adult in a court-appointed guardianship, with their partner having no visitation rights and no rights to manage property.
- Non-traditional couples: The law is still evolving regarding same-sex couples, especially in the wake of United States v. Windsor and other court and administrative decisions concerning gay marriage. Unmarried same-sex couples have no spousal inheritance rights during life or at death. Without proper estate planning documents, a catastrophic injury could place either in a court-appointed guardianship, with their partner having no visitation rights and no rights to manage property.
- A single person: Estate planning is all about responsibility and preparing for tomorrow. Without proper planning, a single person will have no one to make legal, financial or medical decisions for them. If seriously injured, they might be ordered into a court-appointed guardianship.
Protecting your assets with a trust and other estate planning tools is important for all these situations.
Offering many estate planning tools
No two estate plans are alike. A Florida estate planning attorney can direct you to the documents that are best suited for your particular situation:
- Will: Your will is the starting point for your comprehensive estate plan.
- Trusts: A trust can help you manage your assets both before and after you die.
- Marital property agreements: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can put your marriage on solid footing by clarifying some of the confusing aspects of marital property law in the event of incapacity or death so you can focus on your family.
- Powers of attorney: A power of attorney allows you to preselect a trusted person to carry out your legal and financial affairs.
- Health care surrogates: Designate a person or persons to have access to your medical records under HIPAA and allow the surrogate to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions yourself.
- Living will: This popular tool lays out your wishes for medical care in the event you are in a terminal condition, end-stage condition, or persistent vegetative state.
- Guardianship: If you or a loved one becomes incapacitated, a guardian can minimize the financial and emotional disruption.
- Medicaid: The eligibility requirements for Medicaid can be rather complicated and is no place for self-help.
- Special needs: Heirs with physical, mental or emotional special needs may need a specially designed trust.
An experienced, local attorney can assist you with an estate plan or a contested probate proceeding.
Work with a highly educated attorney in St. Petersburg who handles estate planning
Susan Charles has an LL.M. in Elder Law and can adeptly prepare your estate planning documents. Contact The Charles Law Offices at 727-683-1483 or online to schedule your free consultation at one of our three convenient office locations.