Build Your Estate Plan On A Strong Foundation Of Wills and Trusts
At D. Christopher Alfonso, P.L., I help Tampa residents and their families create customized estate plans, and at the heart of most plans is a last will and testament, typically just referred to as a will. If you’ve been considering drafting a will, or want to know more about what wills and trusts can do for you, I invite you to contact my firm to discuss your needs during an initial consultation.
A Will Gives You The Final Word Over Your Assets
If you were to pass away without a will, you would be dying “intestate.” Under such circumstances, Florida’s intestacy laws would govern who receives your property. In many cases, it would be given to your closest relatives, starting with your spouse and children. Perhaps that’s what you would have chosen to do anyway, but perhaps not. You should get to decide which assets go to which people. Writing a will allows you to account for all assets, list specific heirs and which assets each heir will receive.
Your will should include a named executor, also known as a personal representative. This individual is someone you trust to oversee the final affairs of your estate, including completion of the probate process.
A do-it-yourself will made using templated forms can sometimes be worse than not having a will at all, because ambiguity and inconsistency in the provisions can lead to disputes and even estate litigation. When you work with my firm, I will ensure that your will meets all requirements to be deemed valid, and that it clearly reflects your wishes for the estate. I offer free document storage at my office and I make it easy to update and revise your will over time, as needed.
Which Kind Of Trust Is Right For You and Your Loved Ones?
A trust achieves the same basic goal as a will, which is to transfer your assets to your intended beneficiaries. However, a well-crafted trust gives you much more control over how, when and under what circumstances the assets are distributed. They are also more complex and require ongoing work over time, so it is critical to establish and manage them correctly.
One of the most common types of trust is a revocable living trust. You create the trust and name yourself as the trustee. You place some or most of your estate assets in the trust, meaning they are controlled by you but technically no longer part of your estate. When you pass away, the trust becomes irrevocable, a successor trustee takes over and distributes the assets according to the terms you established.
A revocable living trust can greatly simplify or bypass the need for probate, and may be able to reduce your estate tax obligations. It is just one of dozens of common trusts used to achieve specific purposes. After getting to know you during an initial consultation, I can help you choose and create the trust(s) that best meets your needs and goals.
I Can Help with Trust Modifications and Decanting
Once you have established a trust, there are instances where you may need to modify its terms. For example, if you want to change the trustee or a distribution to one of the beneficiaries. The process for modification is different for revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.
You are free to change a revocable trust at any time and for any reason. If you have an irrevocable trust, nonjudicial modifications generally require the consent of every trustee and qualified beneficiary. If this is not an option, the court can grant a judicial modification requested by a trustee or beneficiary. This option can be more contentious.
Decanting a trust is another way to change an irrevocable trust. A trustee with the appropriate powers can transfer the assets of one irrevocable trust into a new one, replacing the terms of the original irrevocable trust agreement with a new agreement applicable to the second trust. Regardless of the type of trust you want to modify, you need an experienced attorney to ensure the changes are valid.
Contact Me For Knowledgeable, Personalized Estate Planning Counsel
At D. Christopher Alfonso, P.L., I help put together wills, living wills, family trusts and other legal instruments that help families plan, protect and futureproof their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I can do the same for you. To get started with an initial consultation, call my Tampa office at 813-321-7354 or submit an online contact form.