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Your Essential Estate Planning Documents to Gain Peace of Mind (Part 1)

by Caldwell Trust

estate-planning-part-1.jpgWe know that planning for your family’s future, for after you are gone, may feel daunting on many levels. The reality is, your loved ones will be better off when you pay proper and timely attention to your estate planning now.

Caldwell Trust’s expertise can guide you. Together, our mission will be to develop the five, most essential planning documents for your estate.  Doing so will clarify your final wishes about everything from assets to health directives and more, providing peace of mind for you, and your heirs and loved ones.  

In this post, we will review the first two of the five estate planning documents to give your family peace of mind.

1. Trust

A trust is a legal document where you appoint your trustee: the person who will hold and administer your various assets, distributions or benefits. Trusts can direct about real estate, property, and issues or assets that, when addressed, will put your mind at ease about these complicated estate factors.

One primary benefit of a trust is that it usually helps to minimize estate taxes for your heirs. Property held in trust also avoids the time and expense of probate court and can specify directives, such as reserving funds for a beneficiary’s education or other allocations of monies.

In Florida, trusts require that certain methods and required statements be used to validate the document.  Caldwell Trust is well versed in these particulars and will guide you through the options. Florida allows various kinds of trusts including trusts where the beneficiary is a family member, a friend, a charity, or even a beloved household pet.

2. Last Will and Testament

This foundation document spells out your wishes on matters like who will care for your (minor) children and who will, or will not, inherit different parts of your estate. For clarity, a separate letter of intent can be developed to explain subjects such as your funeral directives or your decision-making process. It can also be the repository for account numbers, passwords and other practical details. Our clients usually experience remarkable relief knowing that these decisions are made and the necessary instruction and information is all in one place.

Laws concerning wills are mostly uniform across the country. However, Florida does not recognize handwritten, or joint wills. The state also requires that a will be signed in front of two or more credible witnesses and that they sign in the presence of you and the other witnesses. What’s more, without a last will and testament, your estate will enter what is called probate. In Florida, and in our experience, this means it can take from three to six months to resolve. The wait time is used to allow creditors to submit claims, the state to take taxes if appropriate, and the lawyers to finish their job.

Estate planning is a benefit to not only you, but also your family and Caldwell Trust is here to help you every step of the way. Check back next week as we follow up this post with an additional three estate planning documents that will help give your family peace of mind.


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