When considering what type of estate planning tool to use, it’s important to understand the differences between a will and a trust, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. At the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, an estate planning lawyer will be happy to meet with you and review your circumstances in detail. There are important tax considerations to keep in mind when planning one’s estate. One of our Melbourne, Florida attorneys can explain how this may affect you and what estate planning tools will work best for you.
The Importance of a Will or Living Trust
Leaving instructions for your heirs as to your final wishes is very important. Without a will or trust in place, they will have to make many decisions on their own and a judge may need to get involved. In addition, your assets will have to go through the probate process. That can be lengthy and adds costs to the equation. Whether you decide on a will, living trust, or both, an estate planning lawyer from our firm can help you. In this way, you will gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing your heirs will be taken care of in the way you intended.
The Probate Process
When a person dies, if their assets were not placed in a trust, they may be subject to the probate process. There are exceptions to this which an estate planning lawyer can explain, but if a person establishes a trust, they can ensure that their heirs will not have to deal with probate and may be able to avoid having to get the court involved as well.
Options for Living Trusts
You have choices for establishing a living trust, including which one you feel will work better for you. There are two main kinds: a revocable and an irrevocable trust. As with a will, you can change a revocable trust any time you wish. Though you cannot do this with an irrevocable trust, it does offer certain tax advantages that an estate planning lawyer from our firm can explain to you.
Talk to an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, we encourage everyone who is considering planning their estate to call us for a free consultation with a skilled Melbourne, FL lawyer from our firm. During that meeting, you can describe your circumstances and estate planning needs and discover how we might be able to assist you. Call us today to schedule a review with an estate planning lawyer Melbourne, FL clients depend on who can give you the answers you need.
Making Estate Plans with an Estate Planning Lawyer Melbourne, FL Trusts
As an experienced estate planning lawyer in Melbourne, FL can explain, it is very important for all adults to have an estate plan in place, regardless of age or income. An estate plan guarantees that your last wishes will be carried when it comes to how your assets and property will be divided upon your death, as well as how financial and medical issues should be handled if you become incapacitated.
At the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, we have been assisting clients with estate planning for many years and are happy to meet and discuss what your legal needs may be. There are steps that we can assist you in that will help protect your property and assets, as well as provide for your family when you are gone.
The following are the steps that your Melbourne, FL estate planning lawyer may suggest for you:
Take an Inventory of Assets and Debts
The first place to start is by taking an inventory of everything that you own. You will want to keep this list in order to assist the person who will be the executor of the estate. You will also want to take an inventory of all the debts you have since the executor will be responsible for paying the estate’s debts. Having these lists will be a great resource for the executor and make it much more efficient when it comes to settling your estate. Otherwise, the executor could have a difficult time trying to find this information, creating a risk that something could be overlooked, which could cause legal issues.
Make Provisions for Your Children
If you have minor children, your estate plan can create the provisions needed for their care in the event that something happens to you, as a Melbourne, FL estate planning lawyer can explain. You can appoint a guardian who you want to care for the children. This person will be in charge of making legal and other decisions for the children, so you will want to make sure this person is someone you trust. If you don’t name a guardian and you die, the courts would then name a guardian and it could be someone who you would not want responsible for your children. Any assets you will want used to take care of your children can also be set up at this time, as well.
Document Your Wishes
Your estate plan is a way for you to document all of your wishes regarding how your assets should be distributed upon your death. Without these documents, the distribution of your assets and property will be decided by the courts. You can also document your wishes in the event you become incapacitated regarding both your financial affairs and your medical care. For example, if you do not have documentation specifying what medical measures and treatments you would accept if you were not incapacitated, then someone else would be making that decision and they could choose extraordinary measures when that is something you would not have accepted as treatment.
Appoint a Fiduciary
You will also want to appoint the people you want handling all of these issues. You will need to decide who should be the executor of your estate, who should be trustee overseeing any trusts you set up, who should be granted power of attorney to handle your finances should you become incapacitated, and who will be granted health care power of attorney to handle your medical decisions.
If you are ready to sit down with an estate planning lawyer Melbourne, FL families rely on from the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, call today to set up a free consultation.
Should Non-Citizens Approach Estate Planning Differently?
When you are a foreign national living outside of your home country, a host of different legal considerations tends to influence your daily actions. Where are you allowed to work? How many hours will your host country permit you to work? Are there restrictions on the time you may stay in your host country? If so, how does that influence your daily decision-making? Weighing legal considerations like these on a regular basis can be exhausting. So, it is understandable that foreign nationals would have concerns about constructing estate plans in accordance with the U.S. legal system, regardless of whether or not they plan to remain in the U.S. for an extended period of time.
None of us knows how long we have to enjoy our lives, so it is important to have a legally enforceable estate plan in place at all times. But it can be difficult to approach the concept of estate planning if you are living in a country outside of the one where you claim citizenship. Thankfully, you do not have to navigate this process alone. An estate planning lawyer in Melbourne, FL from our firm is happy to help you sort out your estate planning needs, regardless of your immigration or naturalization status. And as your needs, priorities and (if applicable) immigration status evolve, we will be happy to update your estate plan accordingly.
Estate Planning Considerations for Non-Citizens
In general, federal estate taxes are applied to the estates of individuals who have property located within the U.S. You should, therefore, take care to consider the tax consequences of leaving property in the U.S. versus your home country when working with an estate planning lawyer in Melbourne, FL to draw up the terms of your estate plan. In addition, you may want to ask a Melbourne FL estate planning lawyer about the benefits of creating a trust, as this legal tool can be uniquely beneficial when you are not a citizen and your assets are potentially more complex than the assets of most citizens, simply by virtue of the fact that your property may eventually become subject to the laws of more than one nation, depending on where that property is located.
Please also keep in mind that failure to create a will and/or general estate plan may leave your assets vulnerable to the probate process of whichever state eventually has jurisdiction over your estate. Ensuring that you have an estate plan in place is therefore important, as probate can tie up assets and place stresses on your loved ones in ways best avoided.
A Living Will: A Will Created For You
Be prepared. It might be the Boy Scout motto, but it also matches the concept of a living will. A living will is essentially a set of instructions for your family and medical providers to follow in specific health circumstances.
The most significant part of setting up a living will is taking the time to make decisions about hard choices. You will need to choose what you would want to do in the complicated medical situations of:
- Intubation: if you are unable to feed yourself do you want to be kept alive through other methods
- Ventilators: if you cannot breathe unassisted, would you like to be kept on life support and for how long
- CPR: would you want to be resuscitated if you should stop breathing?
There are more items to decide. These determinations are the purpose of a living will. You make choices about what to do in critical situations that you may not be able to make once the condition has occurred.
Documenting your decisions
Once you decide what you want, you need to create your living will. At this point, you should hire a lawyer to document your choices in a living will. There are online living wills, but with these decisions, it seems important to have a professional complete everything correctly.
Provide the completed document to your doctors to stay with your chart. Also, inform at least one family member of your decisions who can help to act as your representative. Selecting this person isn’t required, but it can be helpful. Keep one copy in a safe place, and carry a wallet-sized card that states you have a living will and where a copy can be found.
Do not simply forget about your living will. Professionals recommend that you review your decisions at least once every ten years. You should also review it if you have a significant change in your life like marriage, divorce, childbirth, or terminal disease. If you do change your mind about the conditions of your living will, you will need to:
- Make the changes to your living will with your lawyer
- Contact all parties that have copies of the old version to replace them
- Destroy all old copies
How medical events are going to be handled is important. You may no longer able to make decisions at the time of an injury. If you would like to be able to choose what will happen to you then, contact a lawyer today. They can help you set up a living will now so that you have control over making those decisions for yourself. After all, it is your body and your life. You should be able to decide what to do with it.
Estate Planning Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about estate planning and are a foreign national, please consider scheduling a consultation a Melbourne FL estate planning lawyer from our firm. Once we learn about the particulars of your situation, we will be able to advise you of your estate planning options. A host of legal and financial tools exist designed to protect the property-related and medical care wishes of adults. But not every tool is right for every individual. While it is important for all adults to have certain basic documents, like a will and an advanced healthcare directive, other estate planning tools may or may not be right for you as an individual. Scheduling a consultation with an estate planning lawyer Melbourne, FL clients recommend from the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood will help to clarify your options and allow you to make informed decisions. We look forward to speaking with you.