Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

Estate Planning with the Devolder Law Firm

A couple shaking hands with an estate planning attorneyProtecting what matters most is a full-time job — one that doesn’t end just because you’re not around anymore. When you’ve spent your whole life worrying about your family and working to ensure that they’re well taken care of, the thought of them suffering — either emotionally or financially — after you’re gone can be difficult. It can be so difficult, in fact, that we may push it to the backs of our minds and not deal with it at all.

At The Devolder Law Firm, we can collaborate with you now so that you know your family will be taken care of in the present and long into the future. Effective estate planning will put your mind at ease and give you confidence that your wishes will be carried out after you’re gone, and you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that your family will not be dealing with splitting up property while they are still grieving. With proper estate planning, everything is taken care of and your loved ones can focus on the things that matter most.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of planning and preparing how your assets and property will be handled and distributed after your death. It can be as simple as a single will that gives all of your property to one person or as complex as a system involving a will, living will, and multiple trusts. Our team at the Devolder Law Firm will work with you to decide what approach will best achieve your goals and serve you and your family’s interests.

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

No matter the size of your estate, your wishes and intentions should be respected and carried out, and an estate plan ensures that they will be. We live in a world that is always evolving and changing, and this includes our definition of family. The State of Florida has a general idea of who your family is, but the state’s definition may not include those that you love most and wish to take care of after your death. Without an estate plan, those people who are most dear to you may be left with no protection.  

Estate plans can also make funeral arrangements prior to death and deal with how to pay the expenses of a funeral so that your family and loved ones can grieve instead of dealing with financial stress.

Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

There are a number of reputable resources available online that offer estate planning services, but those resources are meant to be one-size-fits-all. A form that lets you check boxes and fill in blanks gets to know your assets, but it does not get to know you. Every person, family, and situation is different, and an online worksheet cannot possibly capture everything that you need and desire in terms of your estate.

At the Devolder Law Firm, we work with you to understand exactly what your intentions and wishes are. Sometimes what you want cannot be put into words easily and won’t fit on a pre-made worksheet, but when you work with a professional whose job it is to understand your needs and translate them into a plan, your ideas and thoughts can flow more freely and your wishes are more likely to be carried out just as you imagine them.

What Happens If I Don’t Plan My Estate?

If you die without a will or other estate planning tool, the State of Florida has already set up a plan for how your assets will be divided. In this case, if you are married, your entire estate will go to your spouse. However, there are certain provisions that do protect minor children who are not shared by the deceased and the surviving spouse. If you have no surviving spouse, then your estate will typically go to your children or, if there are no children, to their parents.

Without a will, you have no say in how your property will be split. If you would like for a family member to have a specific item of property, like your jewelry, you have no way to guarantee that your intentions will be carried out without a will or other estate planning tool.

Here are some important estate planning terms you should know:

  • Advanced directive: A document that expresses a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment in order to ensure that those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor.
  • Beneficiary: The person that is receiving property through a will, trust, insurance plan, or by law.
  • Codicil: An amendment to a will.
  • Descendant: Children, grandchildren, etc.  
  • Devise: Includes common terms like bequest and bequeath; it refers to giving property through a will.
  • Devisee: The person (beneficiary) that receives property through a will.
  • Heirs: Beneficiaries that receive property through law when there is no will or other estate planning tool.
  • Intestate: When a person dies without a will, they die intestate and their property is distributed through a scheme of laws.
  • Personal representative: The person appointed by the court to administer the estate. Other common terms for the personal representative are administrator and executor.  
  • Power of attorney: A document that allows someone else to make decisions on your behalf.  A durable power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own.
  • Trust: This tool allows a beneficiary to receive property or money at the discretion of another person.
  • Testate: The opposite of intestate; when you die with a will, you die testate.
  • Testator: The person that has died with a will.
  • Will: An estate planning tool that details how the deceased’s property and assets should be distributed according to their wishes and desires.  

Contact the Devolder Law Firm for Estate Planning Services in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and the Tampa Area

Whether your estate is large or small and whether your estate planning needs are simple or complex, the Devolder Law Firm team is here to help you with personalized, affordable estate planning solutions that ensure your wishes translate into action. As a law firm that strives to meet all the legal needs that suburban families face, we’re also able to handle other legal matters that relate to estate planning, including the sale and purchase of real estate.

To meet the Devolder Law Firm team and get started with an initial consultation, please call our offices at (813) 724-3880 or fill out the contact form.

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