Attentive Estate Planning Guidance in Lee County
Every adult needs a clear, enforceable plan for what will happen when they pass away or become incapacitated. Creating an estate plan protects your loved ones, assets, and legacy and gives you the peace of mind of knowing your final wishes will be honored.
At The Law Office of Kelly L. Fayer, P.A., we provide attentive, personal assistance to Florida residents who are looking to prepare for the future. Our experienced lawyer is passionate about helping our clients fully understand their options and implement tools that will accomplish their goals. No matter your circumstances, our estate planning services in Fort Myers are designed to guide you through the planning process and include assistance with a wide range of instruments, from wills and trusts, to advance directives and powers of attorney.
The Importance of Estate Planning in Florida
Some people find the idea of estate planning uncomfortable and attempt to put it off until they are older. While this discomfort is understandable, the reality is creating an estate plan as early as possible is paramount, even if you are young and healthy.
Should you pass away without any estate planning documents, your estate will be subject to Florida’s intestacy laws. This means you will have no influence over who inherits your assets, who takes care of your minor children, or who manages your estate. Any instructions or wishes you may have had or expressed to others will not be legally enforceable.
Plus, estate planning is not just about considering what will happen when you pass away. Your estate plan should also plan for “incapacity,” or situations where you become too ill or injured to reliably communicate. Certain estate planning documents can help you choose who will advocate for you and how your affairs will be handled in these situations.
No one can predict the future, and you do not want to be in a situation where you wait too long to build your estate plan. Even writing a simple will lets you take control of your estate and can save your family a tremendous amount of uncertainty and grief.
Types of Estate Planning Documents
The instruments you will need in your estate plan will depend on your estate’s size and complexity as well as your unique goals. When you come to The Law Office of Kelly L. Fayer, P.A., our attorney will listen to your concerns, carefully review your options, and recommend a tailored strategy for achieving your objectives.
Our estate planning services in Fort Myers include help with many types of documents, including:
- Wills. In your last will and testament, you can decide who will manage the probate process, who will care for your minor children, and who will inherit your assets after you pass away. You will also designate a personal representative, known as an executor in other states, to oversee the administration of your estates. This person must be at least 18 years old; they must be a Florida resident and/or related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption; they must be both mentally and physically capable to serve; and they must not have any felony convictions on their record. In many cases, it may be in your best interest to consider creating a trust in addition to a will.
- Trusts. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement in which a trustee (chosen by you) legally owns and manages trust assets for trust beneficiaries. Like with the personal representative of a will, your designated trustee must be an adult of sound mind and body, capable of carrying out the duties enumerated in the trust. There is, however, no residency requirement, and you may designate a family member, close friend, corporate fiduciary, or attorney to serve. Revocable or living trusts are used to facilitate asset distribution before and after your passing. These modifiable trusts are often used to avoid probate, as assets placed in them are exempt from the process. Trusts are also inherently flexible instruments that can be customized to suit specific purposes, such as Medicaid planning. They require diligent administration, however, and are more complex and expensive than a simple will. Irrevocable trusts can be used to minimize the impact of estate taxes and protect assets, but they cannot be changed once created.
- Powers of Attorney. A power of attorney authorization can be used to give someone permission to act on your behalf in situations and capacities you allow. This allows one or more people to manage your affairs (by accessing your financial accounts and paying your bills, for example) and advocate for you in most settings. Under the law, your agent must be at least 18 years of age or you may designate a financial institution that has a location within Florida and is authorized to conduct trust business within the state. Durable powers of attorney are less restrictive than a court-supervised and/or ordered guardianship, especially when it comes to filling a financial management gap when the principal is ill, out of the country, or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves. The law was updated in 2011 to provide increased protection from fraud. Agents now have the power to act immediately after the document is executed, not solely after incapacitation. \ Under the updated law, it is important that you are specific about the powers your agent has and explicit about what they can and cannot do when acting on your behalf.
- Advance Directives and Living Wills. Should you ever become hospitalized and unable to communicate, advance directives can be used to provide enforceable instructions to your doctor or medical team. You can decide whether you wish to receive certain types of treatment or offer preferences for end-of-life care, for example. You may select a competent adult to be your health care surrogate or proxy, such as a spouse, relative, court-appointed guardian, adult child, adult sibling, trusted friend, or licensed social worker.
Your circumstances and goals will inevitably change over time, and your estate plan should change with them. Consider looking over your estate plan every few years or whenever a major life event occurs. We will be available to assist you with any necessary changes to your documents.
Contact us online or call (239) 208-0189 to start exploring our estate planning services in Fort Myers. Our firm is happy to assist clients in Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, and North Fort Myers.
"I would highly recommend her for any estate, wills, and preplanning, should an unexpected incident happen. She was kind, took her time, and explained everything in lawyer ease!"Carol Colombo
"Kelly is very compassionate and professional. She honestly cares about her clients."Nancy
Kelly L. Fayer
"Kelly L. Fayer received her Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee University School of Law in 1997, and established her law firm in 2006. Dedicated to serving those in need, she won The Florida Bar Pro Bono Service Award for 2019, and was 1 of 20 attorneys in the state honored at the Florida Supreme Court."Read Full Bio
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