West Palm Beach Estate Planning Attorney
West Palm Beach estate planning is appropriate for everyone, regardless of economic status. It is an effective way for you to express your wishes regarding property distribution after death, and health care in the event of your incapacity. Moreover, if you have children under 18 years of age, it allows you to specify who you want to care for them in the event something happens to you and your spouse.
There are important family issues and tax matters in estate planning that must be carefully considered. To avoid any confusion about your decisions, it is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney who understands how to create an estate plan that effectively carries out your wishes with as little burden on your family as possible.
At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we have more than 30 years of experience handling both simple and complex West Palm Beach estate planning matters. Contact us online or call (561) 296-2951 to schedule an appointment with our West Palm Beach estate planning attorney in our Boca Raton, Lake Worth or West Palm Beach law offices.
Helping You Understand Your Estate Planning Goals
Our founding attorney, Larry E. Bray, always takes the time to educate clients about estate planning tools that are available. He works with people to help them understand their unique situations and outline their goals.
Estate planning requires a thorough investigation into a person’s assets and goals, before devising a strategy to protect their decisions after death. We help people understand the pros and cons of wills versus trusts, probate versus trust administration, creditors’ claims and the related costs of each option.
As skilled West Palm Beach estate planning attorneys, we are well versed in the complexities of creating an estate plan that protects your business. Even if you don’t have a business or significant amounts of wealth, we are available to help you protect your decisions. Planning for the future is important for estates of all sizes.
Drafting effective wills for your specific situation
A last will and testament is an important estate planning tool. However, a will is not effective if it cannot be legally enforced. Florida law sets out many different legal requirements for drafting a valid and enforceable will, including the following:
The will must be in writing;
The will-maker must sign at the end of the will or have another individual sign on their behalf;
The signing must be witnessed by two attesting witnesses, who must also sign in the presence of the will-maker and a notary public; and
Any amendments to the will must also meet the above requirements.
The law allows an individual to carry out these formalities without the assistance of a West Palm Beach wills attorney, however, individuals who draft their own wills often make costly mistakes that can result in disposal of their estate that is not in line with their wishes or that can render an entire will invalid. Self-made wills can additionally often lead to expensive and time-consuming legal challenges by beneficiaries or potential heirs during the probate process.
To make sure that your wishes will be properly carried out with minimal stress on your family, you should always have a qualified attorney draft your will for you. West Palm Beach estate planning attorney Larry E. Bray will evaluate your particular situation and skillfully draft an effective will in compliance with all applicable laws that can withstand the probate process so that your wishes will be properly carried out. Furthermore, he can assist you in revisiting your will on a regular basis to make sure that the provisions are still in line with your wishes.
Helping you form a trust that fits your needs
In certain cases, forming a legal trust may be an appropriate option to adequately protect your assets and ensure that the needs of your beneficiaries are met as you see fit. Some benefits of a trust can involve the following:
- Avoiding the probate process;
- Shielding assets from mismanagement of beneficiaries;
- Shielding assets from creditors;
- Simplifying the process of asset distribution; and
- Confidentiality of your assets and distributions.
Experienced West Palm Beach trust attorney Larry Bray can help you determine whether a trust is right for you and your individual situation.
Trust law in Florida can be complicated, so it is important to have an attorney handling your affairs who thoroughly understands these laws and how to best set up your trust for your estate. A West Palm Beach trust attorney can help you determine what type of trust is most effective for your situation, assist you in choosing a capable trustee, set out your instructions for trust administration, put in place protections against legal challenges, ensure your trust meets all legal requirements, among many other trust-related tasks.
It is never too early to come up with an estate plan to protect your hard-earned assets and your family. If you believe that a trust may be an effective estate planning tool for you or if you simply want to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to consult with our office as soon as possible.
Estate Planning FAQs
Q: What is a will?
A: A will is a written legal document with instructions for distributing an individual’s assets after his or her death. A will must be formally executed as required by state law to be legally valid and enforceable.
Q: How can a person change his or her will?
A: A will is typically valid and effective until it is revoked, destroyed, or invalidated by writing a new will. Alterations to an existing will, such as crossing out language or adding a new provision, do not usually meet the legal requirements for executing a valid will and do not affect the terms of an existing will; however, changes or additions to an existing will can be made by codicil. A codicil is a document executed in compliance with applicable state law that modifies an existing will or codicil.
Q: What is a trust?
A: A trust is a legal entity created to hold assets for the benefit of another person or entity. There are many types of trusts that can be used to achieve a person’s or entity’s estate planning objectives.
Q: What is a living trust?
A: A living trust, also called an inter vivos trust, is a trust which becomes effective during the lifetime of the person who created the trust. The person who created the living trust, called the creator, may change the terms of the living trust during his or her lifetime. Because a living trust typically contains instructions for managing trust assets during the creator’s lifetime as well as instructions for distributing trust assets upon the creator’s incapacity or after his or her death, a living trust usually eliminates the need for conservatorship or probate proceedings.
Q: What is probate?
A: Probate, also called proof of will, is the procedure by which a will’s validity is proven to the satisfaction of the court. If the validity of a will is proven to the satisfaction of the court, the will’s validity cannot subsequently be challenged on the grounds of fraud, testamentary capacity, or under duress; however, the probate of a will does not affect an interested party’s rights to question the construction of the will, the legal effects of the will’s provisions, or the validity of the will’s provisions.
Contact a West Palm Beach Estate Planning Attorney
Now is the time when you can make decisions that will minimize the expense and effort associated with probating a will or dealing with a complicated estate plan. To speak with an experienced West Palm Beach estate planning attorney about your legal concerns as an individual or an executor (also called an administrator), contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray.