Protect Your Family’s Future with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
Your Florida estate is the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, from the day you get your first job to the time you start figuring out your retirement. Why is an estate plan so important? Because you didn’t work, plan, and fight your whole lifetime to accumulate your assets only to see them siphoned off through taxes or left to people and places you don’t agree with. Careful estate planning allows you to safeguard the property, family, and legacy you leave behind.
To fully recognize the importance of estate planning, you first have to understand what it is. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and organizing the distribution of an estate while the owner is still living. By taking the time to plan and prepare documents during your lifetime, you can conserve, protect, and distribute your assets for the benefit of family, friends, and charities.
What are your assets? For the purposes of estate planning, your assets may be defined as personal property such as bank accounts, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Assets may also include real estate, cars, furniture, and jewelry.
Through proper estate planning, you can protect these assets from being torn apart by taxes, court costs, and administrative fees. You can make sure your children and other family members are cared and provided for, while reducing uncertainties over how to handle your remaining assets and property. You can explain your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures, ensuring your independence and keeping the court out of such decisions.
Each estate plan is as unique as you. Crafting the most effective plan for you and your family requires the help of an expert Florida estate planning attorney experienced in this complex, often emotional process.
Christopher Wintter has been helping South Florida clients plan their estates for nearly 30 years, working tirelessly to ensure matters are documented and implemented in an efficient matter to avoid disharmony and respect the estate owner’s wishes. Drawing from his years of training and successful experiences, Mr. Wintter can provide you with personal attention and guidance in all aspects of estate planning.
Who Should Have an Estate Plan?
Would you like the short answer? Everyone.
The fact of the matter is that anyone with any kind of savings, a home, a spouse, children, family, or elderly parents should have an estate plan. Regardless of whether your estate is big or small, you should have a plan in place for caring for your assets, health, and family in the event of your death. Otherwise, the courts may appoint someone to handle your estate for you. This person will distribute assets to the appropriate heirs—such as spouses, children, and relatives—in accordance to intestate succession law. If you want to stay in control of who inherits your assets and how they are distributed, you need a strong estate plan.
Small estates. No matter what your estate is worth, it’s important to have at least a basic plan in place. When planning for smaller estates, your plan may be largely focused around naming beneficiaries who will receive your assets after your death. Your plan should include providing instructions on who should handle distribution of these assets and pay any final debts.
Larger estates. With larger estates, it’s also important to plan to safeguard assets for your family and loved ones while minimizing the amount of estate tax that is typically taken from larger estates. In addition, you’ll want to avoid the costly, lengthy, and often grueling process of going through probate court. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as setting up certain kinds of trusts.
Whether you are planning a big or small estate, it’s essential to enlist the aid and counsel of a seasoned attorney. Christopher Winnter has handled estates of all sizes, and can help you make sure the assets you earned through a lifetime of hard work are cared for according to your wishes.
Why Should I Have an Florida Estate Plan?
Without an effective estate plan, the people and property you leave behind may not be cared for in a way that complies with your desires.
In addition to helping you control the distribution of your assets, effective estate plan can:
Decide care for children. If you have young children, you can address issues regarding their upbringing in your estate plan to ensure adequate care. With an estate plan, you can make sure that your spouse is provided for financially so that they are better able to care for the children, and nominate a guardian in the event you and your spouse pass at the same time. Without an estate plan, the court will decide who will raise the children.
Provide for incapacity. If a tragic accident leaves you incapacitated, you may not have the mental or physical ability to manage your affairs. If you want your family to care for you and your property in the event of this travesty, you’ll have to create a legal document to provide for incapacity. This document can designate a person to withdraw money from your accounts, sell stocks, pay bills, and more.
Avoid probate. If you don’t plan correctly, your estate may have to go through probate court—an expensive, time-consuming, and public process. As courts determine how to settle the estate, they may freeze your assets and keep your beneficiaries from accessing them. Your family and loved ones may end up having to pay expensive court fees and funeral arrangement costs out of pocket.
Reducing or eliminating estate taxes. If the total value of your estate exceeds $5.34 million, it may be subject to a federal estate tax. With careful and timely planning, you can reduce or eliminate these types of taxes.
Provide charitable gifts. If you want to leave a portion of your assets to a charitable gift fund or community foundation, you can specify this in your estate plan and your charitable contribution will grow without tax.
An estate planning attorney can provide you with strategies and assistance with proper documentation to ensure these and other advantageous outcomes. As a lawyer who specializes in estate planning, Christopher Wintter can offer you the counsel, direction, and management you need to meet all of your estate planning goals—from securing care for your children to minimizing taxes.
Wintter & Associates, P.A. Can Help You Navigate Estate Planning in Florida
Estate planning can be a complex and daunting endeavor. Effective estate planning extends way beyond writing a simple will to include executing a variety of strategies and organizing many different legal documents—including trusts, powers of attorney, and guardianship.
With Christopher Wintter’s help, you can protect your family and possessions while keeping the government out of your private affairs. With his seasoned understanding of Florida law and estate planning nuances, Mr. Wintter can help you craft a comprehensive estate plan that fits you and your family’s unique needs. Start planning today— call our office at 954.920.7014 (Broward), 305.948.6788 (Miami-Dade), or 561.470.3448 (Palm Beach). If you would like for us to contact you, fill out our online form, and we will respond promptly.