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Fundamental Estate Planning


Only through proper estate planning can you:

  • Appoint the person or persons who will manage your estate upon your death.
  • Specify who gets your estate when you die.
  • Specify when and how our beneficiaries will get their share.
  • Safely avoid probate and guardianship.

More About Estate Planning Services:

Last Will and Testament

A last will simply appoints who manages your estate when you die, and specifies who gets your estate and when they get it.  In it you can also name a guardian for minor children, who will be given preference in a guardianship preceding.  A last will does not avoid probate.  Also, because it takes effect only upon your death, it does not avoid guardianship.

Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.

As its name implies, a revocable trust is a trust that you can revoke or amend.  Because it is revocable it is not a new taxable entity so its creation has no income tax ramifications.  You are the trustee and sole beneficiary during your lifetime, so that you maintain complete control of your assets.  Because you retain complete control of your assets the revocable trust also provides no asset protection.  A properly crafted and funded revocable trust is commonly used to avoid probate and guardianship.

In contrast, an irrevocable trust is a trust that you cannot amend, at least not without court approval or the consent of the trustee and beneficiaries.  When you transfer asset to an irrevocable trust they are no longer owned by you, so it is to be used only under limited circumstances.  The most commonly used is the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, which is used to remove life insurance from your estate for estate tax purposes.

Special needs trusts come in a number of varieties, and are used to provide for a disabled person without disqualifying the person from Medicaid.  They also protect assets from Medicaid liens.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that is used to appoint an agent or agents to manage your assets.  As of October 1, 2011, all new powers of attorney in Florida must be effective immediately, so “springing powers”, i.e. powers that take effect only upon incapacity, are no longer effective unless they were created before that date.  A power of attorney is useful to avoid guardianship in the event you become incapacitated.  However, powers of attorney expire upon death so cannot be used to avoid probate.

Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives)

The two health care documents in Florida are the health care power of attorney, otherwise known as a health care surrogate, and the living will.

In a health care power of attorney you appoint an agent or agents to make medical decisions for you.  This could be needed be at any time regardless of your stage in life, for example, if you are otherwise healthy but become unconscious and need medical care.

A living will on the other hand is a document in which you express your wishes regarding “end of life” medical procedures.  In it you can say whether you would like artificial life prolonging measures (basically anything other than pain medication and comfort care) in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes at the time, have a terminal condition or an end stage condition, or are in a persistent vegetative state (the Schiavo situation), and have no medical probability of recovery.

For more information on estate planning in Florida, please contact us.

Estate Planning Resources:

Business, Corporate, and Estate Planning Attorney Vincent J. Profaci, P.A., assists Clients with Business Operation and Management, Business Succession Planning, Business Purchase and Sale, Estate Planning, Trust Administration, Wills & Trusts, Estate and Gift Tax Planning, Probate and Guardianship, Estate Administration, and Real Estate Law.  


Copyright Vincent J. Profaci. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement. Some artwork provided under license agreement.

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