ESTATES, TRUSTS, WILLS and PROBATE
When a loved one dies, a grieving family is often left to engage in the process of probate and estate administration. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can assist families throughout this process, and perhaps more importantly, help clients plan ahead so that they are assured all assets will be distributed according to their wishes.
A knowledgeable probate attorney can inform clients as to whether a trust is advisable in connection to a last will. This is known as a “pour-over will” and is a testamentary device wherein the maker of the will creates a trust and decrees in the will that the property in his or her estate at the time of death shall be distributed by the trustee of the trust.
Another testamentary device is known as a “spendthrift trust” which is a particular trust or designated clause in the will document, that is created for the benefit of a person (often unable to control his or her spending, or is perhaps too immature to handle money, and therefore must wait until he or she reaches a certain age before funds are fully released), that gives an independent trustee full authority to make decisions as to how the trust funds may be spent in the best interests of the beneficiary. Creditors of the beneficiary generally cannot reach the funds in the trust except in limited circumstances, such as money owed for alimony and child support, or money involves the payment of delinquent taxes.
In addition to preparing wills and trusts, an experienced attorney can assist with other documents such as Living Wills, the designation of a Health Care Surrogate, and documents appointing a Power of Attorney.
Where appropriate, a client may be advised to prepare a revised Deed to real property that designates a grantee(s), but permits the grantor to maintain full control of the property during his or her lifetime. This type of deed (known as a Lady Bird Deed), enables an individual to know with certainty, that intentions regarding real property will be followed during his or her lifetime and that upon the grantor’s death, property will pass automatically to the named grantee.
The benefit to having well drafted documents in place not only protects assets, but permits loved ones to go through the grieving process without worrying about what the deceased may have wanted or disputing among themselves how assets should be apportioned.
Margolies Law can provide legal services in regard to:
- Florida Probate Administration
- Probate Litigation
- Will Contests
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Beneficiary Rights
- Surviving Spouse Rights in Florida
- Ancillary Probate
What is Ancillary Probate? An ancillary probate becomes necessary when the decedent owned assets and/or real property in a state other than the state where the deceased lived and where the estate is being primarily probated.
In Florida especially, there are many residents who come from different states and live here in the “Sunshine State” either full or part time. A great majority of these people are native New Yorkers. Carolyn has been able to assist the families of “snowbirds” as well as full time Florida residents, in cases where the deceased was living in Florida while holding property in New York, or living in New York and holding property in Florida. Her admission to both the Florida Bar and the New York State Bar enables her to handle both the Probate and Ancillary Probate matters.
This is particularly useful in navigating the Surrogate Courts of New York where there are issues of transfer tax, property tax and documents that must be filed with the various government agencies from the Federal Department of Taxation to local county and city municipalities. Carolyn is also able to prepare and record deeds in situations where a person has been the designated beneficiary of real property, but a new deed must be transferred from the estate to the beneficiary and recorded properly to reflect the new ownership.
Securing Your Pet's Future
As pet owners, we frequently must grieve the loss of our precious animal companions because they don't live as long as we do. But no one knows the future and many animals (often exotics) have long life expectancies, higher costs of care or special needs.
A pet trust is a legally binding instrument to ensure that your pet is cared and provided for after your death. The pet trust may be a part of your existing trust or may be a completely separate trust. It allows you to name the caretaker of your pets and creates a fiduciary obligation that the named caretaker follow the instructions described in your trust.
You will provide money for your pet to be cared for, and the trustee of the trust will disburse funds to the caretaker or directly to a service provider to pay for your pet's care. The trustee is similarly under a fiduciary obligation to ensure that the trust funds are used only for the purposes described.
What happens if you don't have a Pet Trust? Your pet becomes the property of the person who assumes its care and the new owner may make decisions about the pet's future you never would have wished for. A Pet Trust drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial and affords the best long term protection for those special family members who have loved you conditionally.
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