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Estate Planning

At Levy & Associates, P.A., we take the time to discuss with our clients the various estate planning tools available to our clients to meet their estate planning needs. Our attorneys understand that a well drafted estate plan requires putting in the time to understand our client’s goals, whether it is to avoid probate or to protect assets from creditors. Our attorneys meet with clients to determine the best course of action and collaborate closely with financial planners and advisors to ensure the estate plan accomplishes our client’s goals.

What is an estate plan?

When people think of estate planning, they often think of a Last Will and Testament or a Trust. While a Will or Trust are certainly important parts of any estate plan, at Levy & Associates, P.A., we know there are many other estate planning documents that everyone should have, including:

  1. Power Of Attorney – a power of attorney designates someone to act on your behalf, whether to manage your finances or make healthcare decisions if you are unable. In addition, this can be an inexpensive alternative to guardianship.
  2. Living Will – let your loved ones and medical providers know when you no longer desire life prolonging measures.
  3. Advance guardianship directive – designate who you want to be you guardian in the event that you are no longer able to manage your care or finances.

These are very powerful documents, and should not be drafted without the assistance of an experienced attorney. At Levy & Associates, P.A., our attorneys can give you piece of mind that these documents will be enforceable under Florida Law. 

As the daughter of a veteran, Mrs. Eskin also takes great pride in ensuring our veterans are receiving the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. Mrs. Eskin also assists clients in preparing their estate plans to help qualify for government benefits, like Medicaid to help families obtain health coverage for their loved ones.

Do I need an estate plan?

Whether old or young, everyone should have certain Estate Planning documents to protect one’s assets, whether many or few, and to ensure that one’s choices are followed with respect to medical and/or financial decisions. For instance, under Florida law, once someone is over eighteen no one has legal authority to make decisions on that persons behalf. Should an adult become unable to make decisions for themselves, a guardianship would be required, which can be costly and time consuming. However, a properly executed power of attorney can avoid the need for an expensive guardianship.

At Levy & Associates we believe everyone should have the basic estate planning documents discussed above, no matter how old or how big their estate is. We work with clients to make sure their estate plan meets their needs in an affordable way, whether that means a complex plan or a simple one.

Estate Planning with Special Needs

Preparing a proper estate plan is particularly important for families who have children or loved ones with special needs. Our attorneys are experienced in helping clients obtain government benefits for the loved ones with special needs. Attorney Eskin is passionate about protecting individuals with special needs, and has taught other attorneys on how to draft estate plans to comply with state and federal law.

Without a properly drafted estate plan, family members with special needs may inherit property that disqualifies them from government benefits. The loss of benefits can be devastating to families and force families to reapply, which can be time consuming.

Consult with one of our attorneys today to make sure your loved one is protected.

Ensuring Family Funds Stay In The Family

Ensuring that family funds stay in the family is an important goal for most of our clients, who want to pass their estates onto their children, but want to avoid the possibility that family assets will be misused or become a part of litigation in the event an adult child divorces or develops mental health issues which impact asset management.  Or the clients may want income only to be disbursed to their children, with principal going to grandchildren.  It is crucial that these sorts of concerns be candidly discussed with us so that we can design the most effective means to direct assets stay within the family or are otherwise directed according to the clients’ interests.

Misconceptions abound as to what will happen with one’s assets upon death.  Some people mistakenly believe that all or part of their assets will be seized by the government and so they attempt to self-diagnose and create documents which cannot be enforced.  Or they believe that no matter what, a spouse inherits everything.  Or they may think that having one child on a bank account along with directions to that child to share everything equally will effectively distribute their estate.  This last method can actually create tax consequences which would not have been present with the correct estate planning.  Some believe that only the spouse who earns the income needs to have a will and that it is unnecessary for the non-earning spouse to have a will, which is not accurate. Other errors we see are those who have IRA or other pension designations for heirs and or a life insurance policy, but different beneficiaries on wills or trusts.  IRAs and insurance plans always override what is written in a will.  Still, there are common misconceptions about estate planning which can lead to termination of relationships between family members, payment of debts which may not be required to be paid upon death, but worse than that, hard earned assets do not get distributed according to the wishes of the individual who earned them.  And probably the most troubling cases we see are where mistaken impressions about trusts created with a first spouse lead to disinheritance of adult children, which is not what the decedent wanted, or where adult children seek to disinherited second spouses, ignoring statutory rights for surviving spouses.  Being aware of all family and business dynamics can lead to peace of mind and more important, correct results and happier families.  In fighting after death of a family member is avoidable with proper planning and understanding of legal rights and responsibilities.

I have an estate plan, do I need to update it?

At Levy & Associates, P.A., we believe in treating your estate plan like an annual physical:  Check it annually to ensure that insurance beneficiaries, pension and other retirement accounts and heirs on payable upon death accounts are still appropriate.  Client divorces or divorces of children or other possible beneficiaries, death of a spouse, child or other beneficiary of an estate plan, birth of a special needs grandchild, a family member qualifying for governmental benefits, serious medical diagnosis, purchase or sale of a home or business, moving between states or purchasing investment or vacation property in another state can have dramatic impact upon an existing estate plan.

Florida is the primary or secondary home to many retirees who have completed estate plans in another state.  We regularly review estate plans that comport with Florida law, but we also encounter some that may pose significant barriers or additional and costly work to admit a will into probate.  It is always wise to have a Florida attorney versed in probate law review an estate plan to ensure that it will accomplish one’s goals under Florida law.

At Levy & Associates, P.A., we happily review ongoing or prior clients’ estate plans and welcome the opportunity to assist new clients in reviewing their previously drafted plans and an affordable rate.

Long Term Relationships

Many couples choose to stay together in a long term, loving relationship without marriage, assuming they will be able to make medical and financial decisions for their partner. Sudden death of a partner may leave the survivor without a home, income, or any legal status regarding the loved one’s estate. These couples definitely would benefit from candid discussion and disclosure of assets and concerns to ensure that a loved one of choice is eligible to legally make medical and financial decisions and to have confidence that a loved one who survives is treated with dignity and respect and is able to maintain the home despite the death of the long term partner.

Children Who Turn 18

Parents are often surprised when their child turns eighteen that they no longer have a right to the child’s medical or educational information. Yet generally, an eighteen year old continues to rely on a parent’s guidance and financial and medical support. Execution of a power of attorney by the child to provide agency to a parent or parents is critical, particularly if the child becomes injured or ill.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Levy & Associates does not represent you unless you complete an intake form and until a representation agreement is signed by you and by one of our attorneys.