Estate Planning

Florida Estate Planning Attorneys — Helping You Plan for the Future

Many individuals think of estate planning as primarily about death and taxes, a view espoused decades ago by Benjamin Franklin in his famous quote, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Estate planning, however, includes far more than preparing for death and avoiding taxes. The true purpose of proactive and well crafted estate planning is to leave a legacy for your heirs. While death and taxes are undoubtedly important, they pale in comparison to your far more lasting legacy.

Despite the many benefits of early estate planning, most Floridians and individuals nationwide are extremely hesitant to discuss death and, in turn, estate planning. Nearly half of all Americans have no estate plan, including no will or medical directives, for this very reason. Sadly, it is the loved ones of those who fail to create an estate plan that will experience hardship. Without a thorough estate plan in place, loved ones may lose exorbitant sums from their inheritance to taxes and probate expenses, may be forced to make medical decisions they are not prepared for, and be left with feelings of uncertainty as to what the deceased true wishes were.

Estate planning is a process through which you develop a comprehensive plan that will define your legacy. The following is a list of some common estate planning techniques offered to our clients at The Shigo Law Firm, P.A.:

  1. Wills are a classic and essential estate planning tool. Your Florida will sets out the persons or entities that will inherit your assets upon your death. Your will also appoints an individual or multiple individuals to serve as the executor or personal representative of you estate. A will can also be used to appoint a legal guardian for your minor children in the event both parents are deceased. While wills offer many benefits and can be a vital part of your estate plan, they do have certain drawbacks. A will cannot override beneficiary designations in life insurance policies or retirement plans. Further, they do not avoid the expense and possible delays of probate. A will is best used in conjunction with other estate planning devices.
  2. Living Wills: A Florida living will allows your family, doctors, and health care providers to make decisions concerning your continued medical treatment. A Living Will advises as to your wishes when you are mentally and physically incapacitated.
  3. Trusts come in many different forms. Two of the most common are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. Revocable or living trusts in Florida offer a means of avoiding probate and saving taxes at death. This trust will set out who receives your assets contained within the trust upon death. You will be able to access the assets placed within the trust while living. This trust also allows you to dictate how, when, and why and heir will receive a trust. For instance, you can specify that a certain amount of funds be used solely for college. Irrevocable trusts are generally reserved for clients with sizeable estates. These trusts shield the estate from creditors and taxation. The assets placed in an irrevocable trust cannot be accessed and the trust cannot be amended, but under the right scenario, this form of trust can provide vital protection for high asset clients. At The Shigo Law Firm, P.A., we also assist in the administration of the trust, advising you on vital issues such as the duties, powers, and standards of a trustee, investing trust assets, creditor’s rights, and more.
  4. Power of Attorney: This important estate planning document assists the handling of property of a person who has become incapacitated. It is valuable for protecting the incapacitated persona and being able to pay bills to upkeep the property.
  5. Health Care Surrogates: Each year, countless individuals will lose the ability to make their own health care decisions, most often due to old age. Under Florida law, you can now designate an individual to make health care decisions for you if you are unable due to physical or mental incapacity. A health care surrogate will have the power to decide when to withdraw medical procedures.
  6. Guardianship: Florida law allows you to designate an individual or couple who can be appointed in the event of your death or incapacitation to care for your children. Absent this vital estate planning document, the court will determine who becomes guardian for your children.
  7. Tax Planning: Estate planning involves many tax concerns.  Through proper estate tax planning and gift tax planning, you can minimize the tax exposure of your assets and preserve them for your heirs. We can guide you on matters including the preparation of gifts, gifting strategies, income tax issues, generation-skipping transfer tax, and estate tax returns.

These are just some of the many estate planning options offered at The Shigo Law Firm, P.A. We also assist with the administration of estates and offer litigation services to those wishing to contest a will or other estate matter. At The Shigo Law Firm, P.A., our compassionate husband-wife attorney team takes pride in ensuring each and every client receives the highest quality of legal services. We care about your legacy and will do all we can to preserve it.

The Shigo Law Firm, P.A.: Offering Superior Estate Planning Services for Clients Throughout Florida

Estate planning will be one of the most important things you do to protect your legacy and your family. You need a law firm with the experience, understanding, and skill to competently serve all of your estate planning needs. At Shigo Law Firm, P.A., our husband and wife attorney team offer years of experience in the field of estate planning. We provide high quality and personalized assistance to those looking to create a will, trust, healthcare proxy, special needs trust, and more. Don’t wait until it is too late—call us today to schedule your initial consultation. You can reach our Gainesville office at (352) 338-1988 and our Ocala office at (352) 369-3476. We look forward to providing you with exemplary legal services.