Orlando Estate Planning Attorney

What will happen after I pass away?

How will my belongings be dealt with?

Will my family be OK?

It is always difficult to think about what will happen to the people you love when you pass away. However, it is important to not dodge the topic. You need have a plan for how your property will be passed on after your death, especially if you have children or family. 

Why should you start planning now as opposed to later? If you do not plan, your property will be distributed according to Florida state law as opposed to your wishes. This is why estate planning--and knowing the right way to do it--is essential. 

Probate Attorney in Orlando

Probate is the process in which a deceased person's property is collected and passed on after his or her death. The probate system can be very complicated and daunting and an estate needs to be probated regardless of whether the deceased left a will or not. The probate process consists of petitioning the court and having a personal representative for the estate named.

We have found that many probate matters are relatively routine. If the estate was well organized, with information about assets and debts readily available, and family members in relative agreement, the probate process is efficient and smooth. However, the problem comes when the loss is sudden, the financial matters are a jumble, and there is significant conflict among family members. These issues can cause probate to take time and money to sort things out.

Probate--How Much Does it Cost and How Long Will it Take?

Contrary to popular belief, you can save time and money on probate. The obvious is having the necessary documents well organized with lists of assets and bills. If everything is organized, and all beneficiaries involved in the process are timely signing the necessary documents, the months that many probate cases take can be shortened to a matter of weeks.

Additionally, solid decisions about real estate and other assets are needed early in a probate matter to prevent loss of value.

For instance, if you are inheriting a house but it needs to be sold, the steps to getting a house ready to sell quickly may be unfamiliar. Often times an elderly person may have delayed necessary repairs, and in some cases may have neglected to maintain insurance on the property. When they pass, and if no one is occupying the home, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain appropriate insurance coverage on the property. Moving quickly to preserve and protect assets is an important part of the administration of a person's estate.

Last Will and Testament Attorney in Orlando

A will is a legal document written to ensure that a person's possessions or responsibilities are taken care of according to their wishes after their death. Unfortunately, many people operate under the assumption that they are too young or have no need for creating a last will and testament.  Writing a will isthe best way to secure your wishes are carried out in the event of sudden death. Florida law has its own system for distributing a person's assets in case a last will and testament doesn't exist, but it might not be the way you intended on having your property distributed. 

Creating a will also significantly eases the burdens on your family, saving them the legal battle of designating what should be done with your home, children, etc. All wills also share some common elements in structure and content. 

What are the Requirements for a Valid Will?

1) Testamentary Intent Clause

This section outlines the person's general information. It states their full name, the county and state in which they live, and a statement that says the following document is their most recent, and therefore only legal, will. 

2) Identification Clause

This clause indicates the members of the person's immediate family, such as their spouse or children.

3) Personal Effects

This section outlines who receives your personal property at the time of death. Items such as jewelry, furniture, clothing, or collectibles are assigned to certain people in this section. Provisions can be added regarding whether or not a spouse is alive at the time as well. For example, you may want your wedding ring to go to your daughter, whether or not your spouse is alive at the time of your death. 

4) Real Property

Real property includes homes or other pieces of property. It is important to consider whether there is a mortgage, foreclosure, or lien on the property before leaving it to someone. Also, if there is any personal property used commonly with or to maintain the property, such as on a farm, it is wise to leave it to the same person or with the property itself.

5) Residuary Estate

All items left over, such as small personal property not deemed important enough to include in the will, are given to someone or an organization in this section.

6) Survival Clause

This section discusses what will happen if two spouses die at the same time. When considering the execution of one of their wills, this clause says that their spouse is considered to have died first if the order of death cannot be determined. 

7) Taxes and Expenses

There are many costs that come with executing a will upon a person's death. This section outlines how those expenses will be handled and by whom.

8) Appointment of Personal Representative or Trustee

This section describes who will execute the will or who will become responsible for a trust if there is one.

9) Appointment of Guardian

When choosing a guardian, it is important to consider the rest of the will. Perhaps you'd like one person to be in charge of your personal property and taking care of your children. This section is vital if the person has children who are minors.

10) Fiduciary Powers Clause

This section details how responsible the executor of the will must be. For example, if they are responsible for transferring ownership of a house as dictated by a will, they can't neglect it or let it become damaged.

11) Testimonium and Attestation

This is a small section where the author and witnesses to the will attest to their responsibilities.

12) Self-Proving Affidavit

Florida law dictates that this section be included in a will. Without it, witnesses can be required for the execution of a will and often times they can be hard to locate.

As you can see, there is a lot of important information that must be included in a will. They are most often written in legal terms and can be confusing for people unfamiliar with this type of language. Additionally, filing the appropriate paperwork and obtaining signatures can be exhausting.

Conflicting or contested wills may leave you with a complicated probate case, and you need an experienced person to help sort through the information. A personal consultation with an estate planning attorney can help to ensure that your wishes are published in the most accurate and complete way, ensuring that they will be fulfilled after your death.

What's the Difference Between a Will and Living Will?

Some injuries are so severe that they leave a person unable to make decisions, and affect the way they will continue living. Injuries to the brain or irreversible illnesses can make it impossible for a person to communicate their opinion in regards to their personal health care. Tough decisions such as these can be avoided by creating a living will.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a person's declaration that directs their health care if they were to succumb to a terminal condition. These wills discuss a person's wishes in regard to providing, withholding, or withdrawing life-prolonging procedures such as water or a feeding tube. A living will can be stated in writing or orally, as long as a witness attests to the event. 

What Do Living Wills Contain?

Specific circumstances or situations can be mentioned in a living will, or the person's philosophy regarding health care treatment can be outlined. Medical personnel can carry out a living will, or a health care surrogate can if one is designated. Two forms of a living will can be created to ensure that all circumstances are covered and your choices are secured.
Living wills, as in all aspects of estate planning, rely on careful consideration and legal prowess to safeguard your choices. Without a living will, difficult decisions can be left up to family members who are already grieving a serious injury.

Trust Attorney in Orlando

When people or organizations manage property or money for another person's benefit, it is called a trust. Trusts are important aspects of estate planning because the arrangement not only leaves money and property to another person, but it is then managed by a trusted person in aspecific way. The arrangement can be a living trust, a family trust, or specified for another beneficiary. 

How to Set Up a Trust

Trusts are created by people who have sums of money that they wish to be used in a certain way after their death. For example, instead of leaving a large amount of money to a charity, creating a trust can ensure that the money be given to the charity in monthly or yearly payments. A trust must clearly identify intention, subject matter (money or property), and those who will benefit. The following paragraphs outline who is involved in a trust and what their duties are. Trusts can be created separately or in a will.

There are three roles involved in a trust, they are:

  • Trustee
  • Beneficiary
  • Testator 

What Does a Trustee of a Trust Do?

The person who is put in charge of managing the trust is called the trustee. The trustee should be someone who is trustworthy and has the best interest of the beneficiary at heart. This person is held to a high standard through the law. They have many duties, including to:

  • Administer the trust in the interest of the beneficiary
  • Deal honestly in the administration of the trust
  • Act impartially if there is more than one beneficiary in the trust
  • Control and protect the property in the trust, if any

Some trusts are created for children in the event of a parent's death, and if large sums of money are left to be managed, it is crucial that they are handled responsibly. Trust attorneys can help you decide who to appoint as a trustee.

Who is the Beneficiary of a Trust?

The person who is receiving or will receive the benefit of the trust is called the beneficiary. Beneficiaries can be children, charities, or any other party that a person deems worthy of their money or property. Family trusts often designate children as beneficiaries. The language used to designate a beneficiary is important to consider. For example, parents may want their child to be given property held in the trust upon their 25th birthday or graduation from college. If these rules are not outlined, then the trustee might not execute the trust in the intended way. 

Who is the Testator of a Trust?

The creator of the trust is called the testator. This person may want to create a trust for the reasons outlined above or many others. Creating a trust also gives you:

  • Spendthrift Protection: This is in case the beneficiary wants to spend all of the money at once.
  • The Opportunity to Plan: Specifically, for when and what type of taxes will be incurred on your money.
  • Privacy: The terms of a will are public once filed with a court, but trusts are not. 

Moral of the story: trusts are an essential aspect of estate planning. Without them, your money and property may not be securely managed after you die. 

Life Insurance Attorney in Orlando

Life insurance helps to protect an individual's loved ones from financial burdens in the event of death. People have many different reasons for buying a life insurance policy. Parents may purchase one to protect their children, or older individuals may buy one to prevent their family members from having to pay their debts. No matter what the reasons may be, the decision to buy life insurance should not be taken lightly. Review policies to guarantee that your needs are going to be covered. 

Types of Life Insurance

There are three common types of life insurance. These include:

1) Whole Life Insurance

This covers the policyholder until death and builds cash value that can be borrowed in the form of a loan. 

2) Term Life Insurance

This insurance can be purchased to cover only 5 years of one's life. 

3) Universal Life Insurance

This combines both term and whole life insurance, but can be risky.

The Florida Department of Financial Services has a brief guide to buying life insurance. It explains the differences among policies and which may be best for you. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also has a guide to buying life insurance.

Do I Need Life Insurance?

Insurance policies can be some of the most important investments that individuals make. However, disputes over benefits or other terms can occur. 

Your life insurance plan can also have an affect on the amount of taxes you pay. The funds paid to an insurance policy may be taxed differently and it is important to know how the payments are classified.

In the end, insurance policies are designed to protect your interests. However, a few companies take advantage of the fact that consumers are worried about their futures. Some insurance policies become little more than a scam and consumers lose money. If you have questions about an insurance company's financial strength, visit the A.M. Best Company's website. This company analyzes the insurance industry's strength in areas such as life, health, and property insurance. You can also use the search engine at the Better Business Bureau's website to verify that a company is upstanding and honest in their policies.

Call 407.648.4940 or contact Coye Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

The expert estate planning attorneys at Coye Law Firm are experienced with Florida, New York, Michigan, and District of Columbia law and are here to help.

Still have questions? Click here to receive your free download of my Probate Special Report: 


  This Special Report is yours to keep. There is absolutely no cost and no obligation to you.

From my Probate Special Report you will learn...

-The 13 responsibilities that a personal representative has. 

-The 5 different ways a personal representative's fees may be determined. 

-The 3 different ways a Probate attorney's fees may be determined.

-All individuals who may be involved in the probate process.

-What you need to organize in order to move the probate process along quicker.

-What to do with leftover medical bills and Medicaid.

   and more...

Click here to receive your free download of my Probate Special Report now!