Questions for an Estate Planning Attorney? We Have Answers!
The offices of J. Scott Lanford have been providing crucial services to elderly clients and their families in the Melbourne, FL, area. Our reliable service has helped us become a trusted source of legal assistance and advice in the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, probate administration, and more.
If you’re considering using the services of one of the most trusted legal teams in the area when it comes to elder law and estate planning, you’ve come to the right place, but you’re bound to have some general questions to start. Here are some of the most common questions clients—both current and prospective—ask us, and some answers to get you started off on the right foot.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is a will?
A will is essentially at the center of estate planning. It’s a document that directs an executor to dispense your assets in whatever way you specify. You can also use your will to set up a trust, name specific beneficiaries, and specify how property should be handled after your death.
Q: Who needs a will?
Everyone needs a will, especially if you have minor children or significant assets. If there’s no will at the time of your death, decisions about your financial assets, property, and children will be made by the Courts.
Q: When should I have my will written?
Of course, you never know when the end of your life will be, but having a will written as early as possible is ideal for ensuring your interests are protected, even in the event of a tragedy. Once you have children or assets, like a home, it makes sense to have a will made that reflects your plans should the unexpected happen.
Q: Can I change my will?
As long as you’re deemed to be of sound mind, you can change your will as many times as you like. If a family member chooses to contest your will after your death, they will have to prove you weren’t in a state of sound mind when the will was created or that you were pressured or coerced.
Q: What’s the difference between a will and a living will?
A living will is like a standard will, but it goes into effect if you’re alive but in a state where you’re unable to communicate your wishes concerning your ongoing medical care. You may also legally appoint a healthcare power of attorney who you certify to make healthcare decisions after you are no longer able to.
Q: When does a living will go into effect?
Your primary care physician will typically make the decision when he or she feels you are no longer capable of communicating or deciding things yourself related to healthcare. Most often, when a living will goes into effect, the patient is comatose or unable to communicate at all.
Q: What is a trust?
Trusts are created when you have special instructions about the way in which your will dispenses property, assets, or life insurance benefits. There are several different types of trusts, but in most estate planning situations, trusts are used to ensure that minors aren’t given their inheritance all at once or before they’re deemed responsible enough.
Q: What is probate?
Probate is the default process that most wills and trusts undergo after a person has died. The Court ensures any debts are paid off from the estate and oversees the will’s directives. Probate can be expensive, so thorough estate planning is in everyone’s best interest to avoid a lengthy probate process.
More questions? Call (321) 339-3620 to learn more.
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