Orlando Estate Planning Attorney

What is Estate Planning?

When it comes to “Estate Planning”, each professional you may deal with (i.e., Attorney, CPA, CFP, Investment Advisor, Insurance Professional, etc.) will likely define “Estate Planning” differently. These definitions are not wrong; but are often focused on the area in which the professional advises. A more complete definition of “Estate Planning” encompasses all of these professionals and the services they provide. Each professional is a valuable resource in reaching your planning goals. We define “Estate Planning” as the process of controlling your assets (and yourself) while you are alive and well – or alive and not so well – and at death, controlling who receives your assets and when.

A foundational estate plan may be based on a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Living Trust. The decision on which estate planning vehicle is “better” is a decision to be made on a case by case basis.


What is a "Last Will and Testament"

A “Last Will and Testament” is a legal document that outlines the distribution of the assets of a person’s estate to the beneficiaries identified in the document. A “Last Will and Testament” only controls assets titled in the decedent’s individual name. To be valid, a Will must be executed in accordance with Florida law.

Will also identifies and nominates a “Personal Representative” responsible for administering the decedent’s estate in accordance provision of the document and Florida law. A Personal Representative is a fiduciary owing certain duties to the beneficiaries, creditors and other interested parties during the administration.

Will based plan includes, but is not limited to:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney, and (iv) Living Will.

These legal documents are often referred to as the “Big Four” documents every person should have.

What is a “Revocable Living Trust”

A “Revocable Living Trust” is a separate entity which contains instructions  on how assets owned by the trust are to be managed. A trust only controls the assets titled in the name of the “trust”. The process of titling a person’s assets into their trust is commonly called “funding”. The individual in charge of following these instructions is called the “Trustee”. A trustee is a fiduciary and owes certain duties to the beneficiaries of the trust. At the death of the grantor(s), the successor Trustee is tasked with administering the Trust in accordance with the provisions of the document.

A Trust Based plan includes:

  • A Revocable Living Trust;
  • Pour Over Will – Last Will and Testament that transfers property from the decedents estate to the successor trustee of the decedent’s trust;
  • Certification/Affidavit of Trust (a/k/a Short Form Trust);
  • Bill of Sale;
  • Durable Power of Attorney;
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney;
  • Living Will.

At the Grantors death, the successor trustee begins administering the trust by the inventory of the assets. A trust’s assets consist of:

  • (Assets which have been legally titled into the name of the trust;
  • Death benefit proceeds which the trust is named as the beneficiary of;
  • Assets of the Grantor’s probate administration which are transferred from the Personal Representative of the Estate to the successor trustee typically at the conclusion of the probate administration.

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Estate Planning