A Trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trust can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. It is a legal entity created for the purpose of holding, managing, and distributing property for the benefit of one or more persons. A trust can be revocable, allowing the creator of the trust, known as the settlor, to have the ability to undo or alter the terms of the trust. A trust can be irrevocable which is less common as it cannot be altered or changed once the document is finalized. A trust is a legal document that states who you want to manage and distribute your assets if you are unable to do so, and who receives your assets when you pass away. The main advantage of a trust is it allows the settlor to communicate their wishes to allow a smooth transition of the assets without the need of dealing with the courts through a probate process.
A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament” is a document that states your final wishes. Similar to a trust, a will is designed to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries upon your passing. Unlike a Trust, a will must be probated. A will generally will require the beneficiaries to hire an attorney to guide them through the probate process. The probate process will require the filing of multiple documents with the court. Further the probate process requires publishing notice of the probate, generally in a local newspaper or the like in order to put any potential creditors on notice which in turn gives them an opportunity to make a claim against the estate if the estate owes them money. Generally a will probated in the State of Florida will take a minimum of three months to go through the probate process but can take considerably longer in certain circumstances.
A living will which is also known as advanced directives is a document which allows individuals state their wishes in advance for end of life medical care. It is a document whereby an individual has made the decision to be placed on, or avoid being placed on life support in the event they become terminally ill. Doctors and hospitals consult the living will to determine whether or not the patient wants life-sustaining treatment, such as assisted breathing or tube feeding. The individual creating this document appoints a surrogate, prior to the terminal condition, to ensure their wishes are carried out in the event they are unable express their wishes themselves.
In Florida, adults can appoint a person to make Health Care Decisions for them in the event they become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions for themselves. The person appointed is known as a Florida Healthcare Surrogate. They Healthcare Surrogate only makes the decisions in the event the individual appointing them is unable to, therefore, if the individual regains the ability to make such decisions for themselves then the Healthcare Surrogate steps down as surrogate until such time as they are needed again.
A Power of Attorney is a powerful document that is often overlooked in estate planning. In an effort to secure a will or trust to ensure their assets are distributed to the beneficiaries of their choosing, individuals often neglect choosing a person to make financial decisions for them in the event they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. The individual or individuals appointed on the Power of attorney is referred to as the Attorney in Fact. The Attorney(s) in fact will have the control over any assets held in the individuals name alone but is only valid during the lifetime of the person who created the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney can be all encompassing or can be tailored to specific situations as the individual desires. A power of Attorney can be an individual or can be two or more individuals in order to prevent misuse of the document.
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If you are starting a small business, you should consider incorporating the protection of your assets. I can assist and guide you through the process. Any questions you may have will be answered in detail. With my assistance, all of your bases will surely be covered. Remember to protect your personal assets once you set up a corporation. For inquiries, contact me today.