Estate planning can be an unwanted topic of discussion, but preparing your legacy can protect your family from emotional and financial difficulties. Mona Bentz, Esq. works with families to determine the best tools for maximizing and safeguarding a legacy.

While each family has a different situation, we hope that the following list of estate planning FAQs will help you in this process. Our team is happy to discuss your specific situation and the needs of your family.

Why do I need Estate Planning?

Everyone who has family, property or loved ones can benefit from estate planning. A life that is full of love and care for others leaves a legacy. When properly managed, that legacy can be safeguarded and maximized for a family’s future. Whether you have significant financial assets or sentimental assets, an estate plan will ensure that your family is cared for in accordance with your wishes.

Why choose The Bentz Law Firm, P.A. to protect your legacy?

Mona Bentz, Esq. understands that each family is unique and that each family’s circumstances are different. Our team provides personalized care and attention to your family’s estate plan, taking into account your unique set of circumstances and your goals for the future. We use the term legacy, because we don’t plan just for your family’s financial future, we work with you to create a plan that transfers your values, sentiments and wishes to subsequent generations. Ms. Bentz  works with each family to draft tools to maximize, protect and transfer that legacy.

What is Probate?

Many people don’t really know what probate is, but they do know that they want to avoid it at all costs. Simply stated, probate is the court-supervised process of the transfer of one’s assets after death. If there is no will, the state intestacy laws dictate who receives the assets and in what amount. For example, under Florida statutes, if a husband is survived by his wife, the wife will receive all of the husband’s assets unless the husband is also survived by children who are not the children of his wife. In that case, the wife will receive one half of the assets, and the children will receive the other half.

What is a will and can’t I do it myself?

A will directs what assets go to whom and who will take care of any minor children. Contrary to popular belief, it does not prevent probate. Instead of applying state intestacy laws, the probate court will follow the directions of the will in supervising the transfer of assets and designating a guardian for minor children. In the easy-access world of today people often resort to inexpensive do-it-yourself wills. While this might work in limited situations, the legal implications of the words used might cause a drastically different outcome than one intended, especially in the light of your own family circumstances. It is always a good idea to consult an attorney regarding your estate plan in order to best safeguard your legacy.

What are powers of attorney?

Powers of Attorney give someone else the power to act on your behalf. They may be as broad or as limited in time and scope as you desire. Typical powers include a Durable Power of Attorney to handle financial matters on your behalf, a Health Care Power of Attorney to make health care related decisions when you are unable to do so, and a Living Will, which directs your loved ones to allow you to die in dignity under the circumstances you deem appropriate. The first two powers give your loved ones the power to speak for you by making decisions on your behalf. The Living Will enables you to speak for yourself when you are physically unable to speak, taking the decision-making power away from your loved ones. Mona Bentz, Esq. believes this is the greatest gift you can give your loved ones because they will never have to second guess their choice.

What is a trust?

A trust may be created during the life of the grantor (an “inter vivos trust”) or on the grantor’s death under the terms of a will (a “testamentary trust”). Either way, the trust enables the grantor to protect loved ones in many ways, whether from predators, creditors, or themselves. It also enables the grantor to guide the distributions from trust in a manner that comports with the grantor’s wisdom and values, such that this legacy may endure over time.

An inter vivos trust protects the grantor during his or her life by providing for continued financial management and care during the grantor’s disability and the seamless continuation of that management immediately after death. In addition, it provides privacy as to the size of the estate, the identity of beneficiaries, and the distributions to each. Trusts may also be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust may be changed or revoked at any time during the grantor’s life. Upon the grantor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable. An irrevocable trust may not be changed except under certain specified conditions. It provides an excellent mechanism for a person to make a gift and to remove assets from his or her estate. There are many types of irrevocable trusts from life insurance trusts (ILITs) to grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity or unitrusts (GRUTs and GRATs), residence trusts (such as QPRTs), retirement trusts and charitable trusts (including CLUTs, CLATs, CRUTs and CRATs).

Each of these types of trusts is a useful tool under the proper circumstances. However, if drafted improperly they may have drastically unwanted results. It is critical that the family circumstances and goals are evaluated, that the documents are drafted by a qualified attorney, and that each of the various tools fits together with the overall plan as the pieces of a puzzle must fit together properly to create the desired picture.

Mona Bentz, Esq. can help you to evaluate your own situation and draft the tools that will protect and maximize your legacy. Call 954-768-1614 to schedule a meeting with Ms. Bentz.

Contact Information

Baker Donelson
100 S.E. Third Avenue, Suite 1620
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
mbentz@bakerdonelson.com
Office direct dial: 954-768-1614

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