Estate Planning

We are a society of planners.  We plan our days, weeks, vacations, weddings and so much else.  There is a whole industry built on event planning.  Despite all of this, how much do we plan for the one sure thing in life we know is coming?  Death and serious disability are events that can cause unimaginable trauma to families.

Through the skilled estate planning advice, our clients prepare for and contain the damage from these traumatic life events.   There is no price that can be put on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done everything you can to protect your family and assets.

Estate planning is about planning for death, but it’s more than that.  The chances of becoming disabled through injury or illness before reaching retirement age are far more likely than a premature death.  Estate planning is about addressing the many “what ifs” in life and to take care of your loved ones.

What is Estate Planning and Who Needs It?

Estate planning is a broad legal area through which our clients decide how to take care of their loved ones and assets.  Estate planning is not just for the elderly or the wealthy, despite what many think.  Nearly everyone should have an estate plan.

In fact, some of our clients who need an estate plan the most are young to middle-aged families with minor children.  Widerman Malek Celebration Law Office works with many new parents who have just delivered or adopted a child. New parents usually have a strong motivation to make sure their families are taken care of through all the “what ifs” of life, from the inevitable to unlikely.  For example, minor kids need to have a guardian lined up to raise them and a trustee to manage their assets in the tragic event of the loss of their parents.

We educate and advise our clients to create the best plan with the right tools to fit their particular needs and budgets.  We think and advise outside the legal box by educating our clients on the benefits of financial and insurance products to enhance the legal planning process and seal all the gaps.

We represent clients from all walks of life, including members of the LGBT community. The recent legal decisions granting full marriage equality and adoption rights to same sex couples was a game-changing historical event.

All families should carefully consider their estate planning needs.  Widerman Malek Celebration Law Office welcomes our LGBT friends to come talk with us about protecting their loved ones in the event of death or serious disability. We offer estate planning services to the modern family.

Last Wills & Testaments

A last will and testament is an important estate planning tool and usually the centerpiece of a family estate plan.  If have some assets and people and/or organizations in your life you want to receive those assets, you should have a will.  We draft wills tailored to our clients’ specific needs.

Your Last Will & Testament is the platform for important life decisions.  For example, through your will, you can determine who gets what you own, in what percentages, who will manage your estate as personal representative (or “executor”), who will raise your minor children and who will manage their money.

Wills can range from the very simple to complex, depending on the circumstances of our clients’ lives.  We recognize that there are many “off-the-shelf” products and online services offering wills and other legal documents.  These options are generally usually inexpensive.  If you are very price-sensitive and all you want is legal forms, such services are likely a better fit than our firm.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a long-term trusted advisor to answer questions and guide you through important life decisions, including both your immediate estate planning needs and other issues, call us.

Family Trusts

There are different kinds of trusts.  In the estate planning context, when people talk about “trusts,” they usually mean a family or personal property trust.  We’ve all heard of “trust fund kids” and may consider this something only wealthy people use.

In reality, many families on a broad spectrum of wealth use family trusts.  The most common reason is to avoid probate. Probate is the legal action filed when a deceased person’s assets need to be passed to their heirs.  The costs and delays of probate motivate many families to title all of their assets into trusts because it allows them to bypass probate.

Trusts are not a good fit for every family.  Sometimes probate isn’t likely to occur for many years to come and usually only after the last surviving parent dies.  Also, an estate plan built around family trusts will cost more to set up than the plan relying mainly on a will.  Then, for busy families, the process of transferring title of all they own into a trust can be a burdensome and time-consuming process they struggle to complete.

Living Wills

A Living Will is not the same thing as a Last Will and Testament though the terms are mixed up constantly.  A living will is a document that allows a person to express how they want life-prolonging procedures to be handled in the event they have a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or are in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable hope of recovery.

By having a living will in place, a person can avoid placing their family and loved ones in the difficult position of having to decide whether or not to withdraw or continue life prolonging treatment. This difficult situation was brought to prominence by the infamous Terri Schiavo case right here in Florida.

In this case, the terminally-ill woman’s parents insisted on continuing artificial life-support care while her husband argued she would not want have wanted such treatment. A living will is a means of making a person’s preference crystal clear and avoids the type of conflict and stress for your loved ones.

A living will is an important part of planning for end of life care and we would be happy to discuss this document with you. There are specific requirements for a valid living will that must be followed.

Health Care Surrogates

Circumstances can arise where a person becomes incapacitated due to injury or disease and can’t make their own medical treatment decisions. The health care surrogate is a kind of power of attorney that lets you name a person you trust to make these important decisions.

Failure to name a health care surrogate may result in estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges making your treatment decisions even if they have little understanding of what you would prefer.

As with the Living Will, there are a specific requirements for making a valid document. At Widerman Malek Celebration Law Office, we believe the Health Care Surrogate is an important part of planning for the event of serious illness or disability.

Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) allows someone to give another person the power to take actions on their behalf.  The POA is generally used to authorize a trusted person to make non-medical decisions in as complete or narrow a manner as the person giving the power wants.

Power of attorney can be customized to fit the specific needs of the situation and can give others the right to do almost any legal act that the maker of the Power of Attorney could do. Examples of how a power of attorney can be used include giving another the right to sell a piece of property, sign legal documents or handle financial transactions.

An important reason to consider having a POA when you are completely competent and may not need help from anyone to manage your life is the alternative if you become incapacitated without one.  If that happens, you may not be legally capable of designating someone to be your agent through a POA.  This could lead to the need to file a long and costly guardianship action in court.  This is the process by which a judge considers evidence and decides on whether someone should be named legal guardian to take care of another and handle the things a POA allows them to do.

There are a number of situations where a power of attorney can be very helpful but it’s a powerful tool that needs to be crafted to the specific needs of the person creating it. Many times a power of attorney can be a useful planning tool.

Contact Widerman Malek Celebration Law Office at (407) 566-0001 and speak to an attorney now!

Contact Us Today

Widerman Malek Celebration Law Office
506 Celebration Avenue
Celebration, FL 34747.
Phone: (407) 566-0001

Widerman Malek, PL
1990 West New Haven Ave. Suite 201
Melbourne, FL 32904
Phone: (321) 255-2332
Fax: (321) 255-2351
Toll Free: (877) 868-7239

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