ESTATE PLANNING

With over 50 years of essential experience, the estate planning attorneys at Yelen & Yelen, P.A. will assist you with creating a personalized estate plan that adapts to whatever changes life presents you in family or in business. Planning for end-of-life may be uncomfortable – recent surveys indicate that more than half of Americans do not have a Will or an estate plan.  It is important for every individual to have at least an up-to-date and valid Will, as well as other critical estate planning documents. Having an estate plan provides great comfort and peace of mind, guidance and protection to you and your loved ones in the event of your incapacity and/or death. Our attorneys will advise you on all of your estate planning needs and guide you in making these decisions regarding your future estate.  Our ultimate goal is develop a comprehensive estate plan that captures your wishes and protects you, your loved ones and your estate. 

Your estate plan may consist of several components, depending on your individual needs and wishes regarding your future estate.  Yelen & Yelen, P.A. offers a full range of planning services for estates of all sizes and ranging complexities, including the following:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Living Trust Agreements
  • Irrevocable Trust Agreements
  • Living Wills
  • Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Surrogate Designations
  • Healthcare Advance Directives
  • Transferring assets/property into Trusts
  • Leaving Florida property to beneficiaries/heirs
  • Naming a Guardian and/or Health Care Surrogate for children
  • Planning for the avoidance of Probate

A comprehensive estate plan not only conveys your wishes on how and when estate assets are distributed following your death, but it can avoid potential disagreements between your loved ones. Your plan will protect your estate beneficiaries’ future inheritance from lawsuits, divorces and potential estate creditors.  In the absence of an estate plan, including but not limited to a Will, Revocable and/or Irrevocable Trust Agreement, Florida Courts are required to defer to the “intestacy” law; therefore, the distribution of your assets will be determined according to the state statutes rather than your specific instructions set forth in a Will or Trust.  

Probate Avoidance

In Florida, probate avoidance is a critical component of many estate plans.  The attorneys of Yelen and Yelen, P.A. can prepare an estate plan to avoid probate following your death, which in turn avoids the lengthy, costly and public process of probate administration. Our attorneys can discuss your goals and circumstances for probate avoidance.  Some of those estate planning mechanisms are as follows:

Create a Revocable Living Trust: a Revocable Living Trust Agreement is created during your lifetime, naming both a trustee and beneficiary/beneficiaries of your estate. During your lifetime, you can modify or amend the trust at any time, and it only becomes irrevocable upon your death. The creation of Revocable Trust Agreements may also prevent the need to probate your estate following your death.

Create an Irrevocable Trust: an Irrevocable Trust Agreement allows you to appoint a trustee and beneficiary/beneficiaries of your estate; however, this document is non-modifiable once created. These instruments are effective in transferring wealth to family members and protecting assets. The creation of Irrevocable Trust Agreements may also prevent the need to probate your estate following your death.

Transfer property during your lifetime: prior to your death, you can transfer your real property, including your Florida homestead property, to designated beneficiaries.  Those beneficiaries will assume title to the property following your death.  Joint ownership during your lifetime will also avoid the need for a probate estate – if real property is owned as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” or “tenants by the entirety” for Florida spouses, the property automatically transfers to the surviving owner upon your death.

Florida law permits the creation of “Lady Bird deeds,” also known as an “enhanced life estate deed.” Lady Bird deeds allow for you to maintain a life estate in the property during your lifetime (maintaining the benefits of homestead) but transfers the future ownership interest in the property to your designated beneficiaries.

Name a death beneficiary for your assets: you can designate beneficiaries of your bank accounts and investment accounts so the accounts can automatically transfer the beneficiaries upon your death.  The beneficiary designation will be observed by the financial institution and those assets pass outside of the probate estate.  Florida law specifically permits for your assets to be transferred upon your death (also known as “Transfer on Death”/”TOD” or “Payable on Death”/”TOD”). This is an excellent estate planning tool which ensures that the beneficiaries have immediate access to liquid funds following your death.   

Our attorneys can assist you in discussing, developing and updating your estate plan. Please feel free to call us at 305-445-3721 for a consultation.

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FROM THE FLORIDA BAR