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Estate Planning


Estate Planning in South Florida

An estate plan is an organized, coherent, and detailed collection of legal documents that help you and your family members determine which parties may receive your assets upon your death. The legal documents in an estate plan also may provide individuals with the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding your finances and your medical care if you lose mental capacity. Estate planning ensures that you protect what you have worked hard to obtain, and that your heirs are not saddled with tax burdens and chaos in the event of your untimely death.

The following documents may be included in a Florida estate plan: 

  • Living trust(s) 
  • Pour-over-will
  • Durable power of attorney 
  • HIPAA authorization
  • Living will
  • Advance healthcare directive 
  • Deeds to real property 
  • Annuities 
  • IRAs
  • 401(k)s
  • Guardian nominations

The legal documents that make up your estate plan must be signed and preserved in a safe space. Every client who sets up an estate plan will have unique needs, and not all of the documents listed above will be necessary for every estate plan. The specific needs of each client will dictate which estate documents will best serve their interests. One of the greatest benefits of having an estate plan is you avoid intestacy. Intestate succession is the statutory determination of which parties will receive your assets upon your death. By developing and creating an estate plan, the testator can determine which parties will receive their assets.

The Living Will in Florida

The living will is not the same instrument as the living trust. The living will provides instructions for what should be done if the testator loses capacity due to serious injury or illness. A testator can set forth in a living will whether they want feeding and breathing tubes to be used to preserve their life if they suffer serious injury or illness. If a testator dies without a living will, it can make it more confusing for your survivors to determine if you should receive end-of-life care.

The Pour-Over Will

A pour-over will mandates that everything that is not in your living trust upon your death should be added to your living trust. A pour-over will will take the contents of a will and “pour them over” into the trust. More specifically, the pour-over will directs the contents of the estate to to be transferred to the trustee of the living trust. 

A pour-over will can be an important part of an estate plan if the testator forgets to transfer property to a living trust prior to their death. If you set up a trust, you will transfer the title of your assets to the trust, but if any assets remain that are not transferred, the pour-over will can make sure they are moved into the trust.


Probate is the judicial process of administering a decedent's last will and testament. The decedent's assets are ascertained and gathered. The decedent's taxes and debts are paid, and the remaining portions of the estate are distributed to beneficiaries. Probate may take years to complete, and it is a public procedure so the estate will not remain private. Also, probate can be expensive if conflicts or disputes arise during probate administration.

The Role of An Executor

Under Florida law, when an individual dies, their property must be collected and accounted for within a reasonable time. Expenses, taxes, and debts are paid and the remaining assets are distributed to the person who is legally entitled to the property. The distribution will be according to the provisions in the decedent's valid will. If the decedent has no valid will, the Florida laws of intestacy will determine how the assets are distributed to those who survive the decedent. The executor (also termed the administrator) is responsible for safeguarding and collecting the decedent's assets, paying off expenses, debts, and taxes, and distributing the assets.

Durable Power of Attorney

Sometimes called a Financial Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a principal to name another person as their attorney-in-fact, and this allows the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the principal regarding financial matters. The principal may lose capacity due to illness or injury. The Durable Power of Attorney allows the agent to make decisions regarding the principal's finances to avoid future disputes and conflicts. 

The principal can determine the scope of the powers granted to the agent through the Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect during the principal's incapacity but it terminates upon the principal's death. A power of attorney may become active immediately or only when the principal loses capacity. The principal can also specify a certain date when the power of attorney will take effect.

Florida Estate Planning Laws

Estate planning laws are unique in every jurisdiction in the United States. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can ensure that your estate planning documents will allow you and your family members to avoid probate. Also, having an organized estate plan in place will make it more likely that assets will be distributed to your survivors quickly. 

An estate plan can also make your wishes clear so that your surviving family members are less likely to initiate will contests. Although your family members may be going through the grieving process, knowing they have a clear estate plan to guide them will make the estate administration process less burdensome.

Contact Us Today To Learn More About Our Estate Planning Services

You may not know where to begin regarding your estate plan. Call the CYA Law Firm today to book a consultation. We can help you with every aspect of your Florida estate plan. Whether you are seeking estate planning services for the first time, or if you want to revise or modify your existing estate plan, we can help you achieve your estate planning goals. Attorney Adalbert Martinez will be able to help you with your estate planning. Contact us today to get started!

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