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Estate Planning in Florida

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Understanding what an estate plan is, what role it can play in your life and why it's so important to create one now rather than later is essential. Learn more about estate planning in Florida in this presentation.

Understanding what an estate plan is, what role it can play in your life and why it's so important to create one now rather than later is essential. Learn more about estate planning in Florida in this presentation.

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Estate Planning in Florida

  1. 1. fr fr ESTATE PLANNING IN FLORIDA Understanding What an Estate Plan Is, What Role it Can Play in Your Life, and Why It's So Important to Create One Now Rather than Later Is Essential ROBERT J. KULAS FLORIDA ESTATE AND MEDICAID PLANNING ATTORNEY
  2. 2. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 2 What do you think when you hear someone say “estate planning?” If you're like most Americans, you don't have a firm grasp of what estate planning actually is. Though it is difficult to determine an exact figure, it's estimated that a majority of Americans never get around to creating any kind of estate plan whatsoever. To help shed some light on this vital topic, we're going to discuss some basic ideas that everyone should know about estate planning. Whether you are young, old, or anywhere in between, understanding what an estate plan is, what role it can play in your life, and why it's so important to create one now rather than later is essential. ESTATES Before we jump into the deep end by discussing what estate planning is, it's necessary the first understand what we mean when we refer to your “estate.” A lot of people mistakenly assume that an estate is a large home, piece of land, or otherwise something that only wealthy people have. This cannot be further from the truth. When your lawyer talks about your estate, what he or she is referring to is the legal realities that follow death. Put simply, an estate is everything you leave behind after you die. Whether you leave behind
  3. 3. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 3 documents, property, debt, or anything else, all of this is lumped together into your estate. In other words, everyone will leave behind an estate, whether they realize it or not. ESTATE PLANS If an estate is what you leave behind after you die, an estate plan is what you do while you are still alive in an attempt to control what happens to that estate. Though no two estate plans are ever identical, they all rely on the same basic tools. Each of these tools is designed to allow you to make certain kinds of choices. The choices you make for your estate plan can control a wide variety of issues. For example, one of the most common issues that people address through their estate plans is the question of inheritances. How much do you want to leave your spouse when you die? What about your
  4. 4. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 4 children or your grandchildren? Are there charitable organizations, religious institutions, or other groups that you want to include in your inheritance plan? Regardless of your specific answers to those questions, what is the best way you can ensure that your inheritances will not only be as large as you can make them, but will be inherited by your heirs as quickly as possible? Estate plans are designed to allow you to answer all of these questions. When you begin the planning process, you and your lawyer sit down and discuss the kinds of choices you will have to make. After thinking about your options and making your individual decisions, you can then go about the process of creating the individual tools that meet your needs. It's also important to point out that the questions your plan addresses will need to be answered regardless of whether you complete the estate planning process or not. If you choose not to create an estate plan, or only create an incomplete plan, the questions that go unanswered will be answered by someone other than you. Depending on your circumstances, the laws of the state of Florida, a court, or someone appointed by a judge will answer the important estate planning issues your plan doesn't address.
  5. 5. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 5 In other words, if you don't create an estate plan, someone else will make estate planning decisions for you whether you like it or not. INCAPACITY PLANS It's also important to realize that estate planning is about more than addressing what happens to your property after you die. Though everyone will eventually leave behind an estate, you might also leave behind an estate if you become incapacitated or are no longer able to communicate or make decisions. In the event of your incapacitation, someone will have to manage your property for you, and will have to make decisions on your behalf. Estates left behind by incapacitated people are often more complicated than those left behind by the deceased because that person is still alive. As with estate planning, incapacity planning allows you to make choices that will take effect if and only if you become incapacitated. Similarly, if you fail to make choices on your own, you leave it up to others to make them for you, and without your input.
  6. 6. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 6 INDIVIDUALIZED ADVICE Even though creating an estate plan is something that every capable adult in Florida should do, it's something that far too few ever actually get around to doing. The legal reality is that you are never under any obligation to create any kind of will, incapacity planning device, or any estate planning tool of any kind. On the other hand, should you decide that creating an estate plan is important to you, you should never try to create a plan on your own. Even though this brief discussion has only highlighted a few of the issues your estate plan will have to address, the sheer multitude of choices available to you is hard to grasp when you are beginning the process. As someone who wants to develop a comprehensive estate plan, it will always be in your best interest to contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you. Our attorneys and staff have been helping people in Florida develop estate plans for years. While the tools we might use are often similar from plan to plan, the choices those plans protect are always up to the individual to make. No one can make your estate planning decisions for you, and only after considering all your options and weighing your desires against the legal realities can you begin creating a plan that fits each of your needs
  7. 7. Estate Planning in Florida – Part 1 www.kulaslaw.com 7 .About the Author Robert J Kulas Robert is the founder and principal shareholder in the Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach law offices of Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Because he believes that helping his clients manage their personal affairs wisely is one of the most worthwhile professional activities he can pursue, he has devoted his practice exclusively to estate planning. Robert has invested considerable time and energy helping to educate others in estate planning and is widely regarded as a dynamic speaker who can make even the most complex estate planning issues easy to grasp. He provides free monthly seminars to inform the public on the importance of proper estate planning. Over the past twenty years, thousands of people have come to hear him speak. “Helping people understand their options for estate planning is very important to me,” Robert said. “I like to think that people in our community can look to me for the kind of quality information they need to decide what is best for them and their families.” About Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law is a full service estate planning and wealth preservation law firm servicing Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach, Florida. The firm is dedicated to providing you with quality estate planning resources, so you can become familiar with all of the existing options. When you visit or call the office, we want you to feel comfortable discussing such an important issue concerning both you and your family. We want to arm you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your family's future. www.kulaslaw.com East Lake Professional Center 2100 SE Hillmoor Drive, Suite 105 Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 Phone: (772) 398-0720 Univest Building 2770 Indian River Blvd., Suite 321 Vero Beach, FL 32960 Phone: (772) 778-8481

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