Your Trusted Attorney for Estate Planning in Volusia County
Michael P. Kelton is a trusted local attorney in Deltona, DeLand and the surrounding Volusia County area, with extensive knowledge and experience in estate planning. As a skillful law professional, Attorney Michael Kelton can help you understand how your estate will be valued, dispersed and taxed after your death.
It is Never Too Early to Start Planning for the Future
Regardless of your income, estate planning is an integral part of your financial plan. Kelton Law, P.A. works with clients to recommend the best estate options that allow them to decrease their tax burden and have greater control over their property. The firm’s team of attorneys can draft estate planning documents – including your will, living will, durable power of attorney, and the designations of a health care surrogate – to ensure your wishes concerning the distribution of your property and assets are followed upon your death.
A trust is an arrangement where a trustee holds legal title to property for another person or beneficiary. You may be the trustee of your own living trust and keep full control over all property held in trust. The beneficiaries that you name in your living trust will receive the trust property upon your passing. The advantage of making a living trust is to avoid your family the expense – and often long delay – of probate court proceedings after your death. You will transfer most of your assets into the revocable living trust once it is created, and the trust can be changed at any time.
Any assets that are not part of your revocable living trust become part of your estate, which must go through probate. The titles on bank accounts and deeds to real estate must show the trust as the owner. When a trust is created, a successor trustee will be named and authorized to write checks, manage investments and pay bills should you become incapacitated. A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust in estate planning. However, to understand the complexities of a trust and which type best serves your needs, it is essential to discuss your situation with an attorney.
Your last will and testament is the most important document of your estate plan. If you do not have a will, your loved ones and the state will have no knowledge of how you want your property distributed upon your death or incapacitation. With a will, your property can be transferred to beneficiaries of your choosing with details as to what assets each beneficiary is to receive. When drafting a will, you can select a guardian for minor children or other dependents, name the executor of your estate, reduce the cost of probate and parcel the distribution of your assets. You may also have a revocable living trust and a pour-over-will that transfers remaining assets into your trust upon your death. In a revocable living trust, as opposed to a will, what you leave after your death is private. A will goes through probate and thereby becomes a public document. An inventory of all assets must be filed during probate but is not required with a revocable living trust. It is also more difficult for heirs to contest a revocable living trust than it is for a will. You can name guardians for your minor children in a will, but not in a revocable living trust. In this case, you would want a will as well as a trust. The guardian will be named in your will, and your successor trustee will manage the financial aspect of taking care of your minor children.
Does Having a Will Allow You to Dispose of Your Property in Any Way You Wish?
Any property may be transferred by will, but some interests in property cannot be willed due to the rights of the owner that automatically terminate upon death. In other cases, rights to property are granted by Florida Law.
Examples of These Property Rights are:
A homestead (the residence and adjoining lands owned by a person who is survived by a spouse or minor child up to one-half acre within limits of an incorporated city or town, or up to 160 acres outside those limits).
A life estate (property owned only for the life of the owner).
Any property owned jointly with another person or persons with the right of survivorship (a tenancy by the entireties, which is limited to joint ownership between a husband and wife, would be a property that automatically passes to the joint owner).
The law gives a surviving spouse a choice to take either the share provided under the will or a portion of your property determined under Florida’s “elective share” statute. There is a formula to calculate the size of the surviving spouse’s elective share. It includes amounts coming from your jointly held and trust property, life insurance and other non-probate assets. This formula is complex, and you usually need to consult an attorney with extensive experience in estate planning.
How Often You Can Change Your Will
Your will may be changed as often as you would like it to be while you are sane and are not under any undue influence, duress or fraud, provided it is changed in the required manner. All changes require careful analysis and a reexamination of all the provisions in your will.
Estate Planning During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Now is a good time to make sure your estate plan is up to date. For a will to be valid in Florida, you must sign it at the end in front of two witnesses, who must be in each other’s presence. Beginning on July 1, 2020, the signing of a will in Florida can be conducted electronically. Notaries will be able to affix their seals and signatures to most legal documents as long as they witness the signing via live, two-way video links.
Durable Power of Attorney
The durable power of attorney could be a key document in your estate plan. The durable power of attorney allows you to designate an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. It should be created with attention to detail, ensuring you grant the proper set of powers to your agent and include any appropriate restrictions to protect yourself. When creating a durable power of attorney, the assistance of a lawyer is vital.
Designation of a Health Care Surrogate
A designation of a health care surrogate allows you to authorize a person to receive health care information from your physicians and to make decisions on your behalf. The person should be someone you trust; however, you can choose any person as long as they are a mentally competent adult.
For All Your Estate Planning Needs, Contact Kelton Law, P.A.
The State of Florida will distribute your assets according to state laws if you die without a will or a living trust. With the counsel of your estate planning attorney, you can decide whether you need a revocable living trust, or if a will is sufficient. To help make these critical decisions, consult a caring and compassionate estate planning attorney. Attorney Michael Kelton, P.A., located in Deltona and DeLand, Florida, is here to counsel you on your estate planning needs.