Estate Planning for Couples with Minor Children
Your children are your legacy and the most precious part of any family. Our estate plans mean that you can be assured that your minor children will be financially, physically, and emotionally cared for if something happens to one or both parents at the same time. It’s important to be the one in charge of appointing a legal guardian for your children. Not just any relative will do – it needs to be someone capable and trustworthy beyond comparison. It’s not something that you should trust the courts to decide for you upon your passing.
A well-drafted estate plan doesn’t just give you the confidence that your children will be in good hands – it assures you that your estate will pass to them with minimal interference, too. Minimize taxes and reduce the risks of litigation or collection with a plan that comes with:
- Last will(s) and testament(s) with a testamentary trust
- Durable power(s) of attorney for property
- Power(s) of attorney for healthcare
- Living will(s)
- Guardianship designation
- One in-person meeting to review first drafts
- One revision of first drafts
- One signing ceremony
- Second set of original documents
This is a no-obligation order. No payment information required. Our Attorney reviewes each request to ensure we do not have a conflict of interest with any other client before accepting any new client. Prices are our good faith estimates base on projects we have completed in the past. We reserve the right to decline any project for any reason. No Attorney-Client relationship is formed until we have a written agreement any client indiciating as such.
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How to Get started
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Having an estate plan is absolutely necessary if a couple wants to have any say in how their minor children are cared for and how their property is distributed upon your passing. Without one, the courts will divide up your estate, and their decisions are often far from ideal. An estate plan helps ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for your family during an already difficult time. It is essential to preserving your legacy and your family’s quality of life, even when you’re no longer around.
2. How Can an Estate Plan Help Provide for My Children?
An estate plan benefits your minor children by giving you the ability to appoint someone that you have total confidence and trust in to serve as their guardian should anything happen to one or both members of a couple. There’s no need to worry that the courts will place them with someone who is anything other than your first choice. This is because it lets you provide for them by appointing a proper conservator or trustee to manage the property that gets passed on to them on your behalf. It’s not just about getting them the money — it’s about making sure that it’s used responsibly, too.
3. What’s the Consultation Process Like for Estate Planning?
As a client-focused law firm, we like to make ourselves more accessible than our competitors. Oher firms nickel and dime you for every phone call or email. Our attorney, on the other hand, understands that this is a uniquely sensitive matter. That’s why we’re here to support you every step of the way. It’s important to us not only that you come away satisfied and protected, but that you understand the contents of your plan as well. That’s why we make ourselves available to answer your questions or reevaluate your strategy at your convenience at no extra charge.
4. What’s the Process for Estate Planning?
Your legacy and the future of your minor children are both too important to rely on free online estate planning templates or so-called “simple wills.” Estate plans are highly personalized documents with low margins for error and plenty of opportunities for confusion. Having an attorney to help you navigate these unpleasant waters can go a long way to maintaining your current level of comfort, protecting the future of your descendants and other beneficiaries, and planning for the worst. Because there are so many misconceptions surrounding estate plans, we thought we’d give you an overview below.
4a. Assess the Value of the Estate
Estate planning begins by evaluating the estate. This isn’t just about calculating its value, either. While you obviously want to maximize what your estate is worth, you also need to account for potential liabilities, debts, and unpaid taxes. It’s also important to confirm who owns what at this stage and to review any jointly owned or homestead property. Ownership might sound easy to determine, but that’s not always the case, especially for married couples and individuals who have been divorced or widowed. There are state laws to factor for here, too. By taking on our firm to guide you through the estate planning process, we help make sure that no unwelcome surprises come between you and your plans for the future.
4b. Decide on a Strategy
It isn’t a plan if you don’t have a goal in mind. An estate plan is more than designating a guardian or your minor children and drafting a simple will – it’s a strategy for moving forward. Don’t treat it like another item to cross off your to-do list. We make no assumptions and get to know our clients so that we can best meet their needs. An estate plan can be tailored to accomplish any number of objectives. While this obviously includes maximizing the inheritance for your descendants or spouse, you could even set up a plan that allows you to indulge in your later years instead of passing your assets off to a living trust.
4c. Your Restrictions
Once we’ve had the time to get to know you, your estate, and your goals, then it will be time for us to review any laws or other restrictions that might get in the way. This even includes planning for unexpected events in the future, such as if a surviving spouse remarries. Our firm knows what to look out for, what can’t be done, and what tools are helpful for planning your estate. Don’t waste your time on google researching this stuff – that’s what we’re here for.
4d. Explain Lifetime Gifts
Lifetime gifts are a relatively new part of the estate planning process for couples with minor children. It got its start in 2018. This is an option that should only be taken if you’re absolutely positive that your remaining assets will be enough to let you live out the rest of your life in comfort after accounting for other goals of the estate plan. These gifts can be made to charities or to your loved ones. There are many tangible benefits to lifetime gifts, which we can discuss in office if it’s something that you are interested in pursuing.
4e. Go Over Living Trusts
A living trust is a document that places your assets into a trust that allows you to keep using them while still making sure that everything gets transferred to your beneficiaries when the time comes. Sometimes our clients come to us specifically with a living trust in mind. However, it’s important to look at all your available options to make sure that you’re with what’s best, not just with what’s most popular. Living trusts are especially useful for couples whose totaled estates surpass the unified credit equivalent. It might be worth looking into irrevocable living trusts as well.
4f. Draft Your Will
A will is what comes to mind for most people when they think of estate planning. There are different kinds of wills for different situations. We’ll help you sort through the noise and find the best match for you and your loved ones. This is also a good point to consider:
- Desired burial arrangements
- What personal property will go to which person
- Powers of appointment
- What will be done with any property not already designated for someone else (this is known as the residuary of the estate)
- The source of income, estate (on both state and federal levels), and generation-skipping taxes
- The selection of a fiduciary
- Who should act as a guardian for your minor children, if applicable
4g. Elective Share Laws
An elective share is a portion of your estate that a surviving spouse can claim as an alternative to what they were originally left in the will. This can come out of your probate estate, property passing to any survivors, fractional property interests, certain trusts, cash surrender value of life insurance, retirement plans, and any transfers made within a year of the individual’s passing. This is to help keep the surviving spouse from falling into poverty. It’s important to give us the details of any premarital or postmarital agreements incase they contain anything that might avoid elective share laws.
4h. What to Do in Case of Incapacitation or Disability
How to handle incapacitation is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated provisions in an estate plan. No one wants to think that they’ll spend their later years unable to communicate or care for themselves. However, it’s important to plan for the worst now to minimize the chaos that comes with unexpected circumstances.
For example, you might have heard about a “durable power of attorney.” This power gives someone the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf as your “attorney-in-fact.” The specifics of what will be allowed are largely up to you. A durable power of attorney can also come with the ability to make health care decisions. However, you can also leave those choices to another party, known as a health care surrogate. You might also want to designate a personal representative to receive protected medical information for HIPAA compliance.
Estate planning also lets you decide on whether you want to be kept on life support if you’re incapacitated without any realistic expectation of recovery. This is known as a living will. Living wills became especially well-known in Florida after the Terry Schiavo case that lasted from 1990 to 2005.
4i. Gather Your Allies
As much as we strive to be your one-stop law firm shop, larger estates require larger support networks. Other professionals that might be needed include accountants, insurance agents, and trust officers. We’re more than happy to work with your own advisors. However, years of working in the Tampa-St. Pete area has given us a large network of talented specialists to connect you with – both for your estate plan and for any other projects that you have in your backlog.
4j. Narrow Your Focus
Once we have a full understanding of your estate and your hopes for its future, then it’s time to narrow down its scope. The goals you decide on now are much more specific aims than the more general objective we settled on before. We’ll work with you to develop and strategies for achieving these goals, such as:
- Ensuring steady income during retirement
- Deferring taxes through marital deductions
- Minimizing taxes by implementing exemptions
- Seeking to avoid probate
- And more
4k. Review Your Estate Plan
Some lawyers don’t know how to turn off the legalese, which can make it hard to stay on the same page as their clients. Our firm, on the other hand, knows how to communicate with people like they were actually, you know, people. Our attorney makes himself readily available to answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding your estate – no matter how small or complicated those questions might be. We explain your plan to you in plain English, keep you updated on any changes we make, and let you know about any alternatives that we think might work for you. It matters to us greatly that you understand the ins and outs of your plan.
4l. Put the Plan into Action (and Update It Regularly!)
The next part is on us. We’ll implement your estate plan so that you can get back to living your life that must faster. We’ll draft up all your paperwork, advise you on any next steps that need to be taken and how to carry them out. You can even officiate your estate plan with a signing ceremony in our offices if you like!
But our support for you doesn’t stop there. The specific laws covering estate plans change often. We’ll inform you of those changes and work with you to bring your plan back into compliance if need be. Our firm will even make any necessary updates down the line should there be any major changes to your personal or financial situation.