Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney Serving Florida for More Than 20 Years
Representing Families in St Johns, St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, Orange Park, and Fleming Island
For many people preparing an estate plan is one of the few times in their lives that they will need to speak with an attorney. It is a very personal process and there are many questions, both contemplated and uncontemplated, that will need to be answered along the way.
When choosing an attorney, experience matters, but so does the ability to forge a personal relationship. You need to feel comfortable when preparing your estate plan, and it is essential not to have any reservations about asking questions or sharing your personal information. A good Jacksonville estate planning lawyer will offer advice and provide recommendations that are specific to your unique circumstances, and will be able to help you put together a comprehensive estate plan that addresses all of your goals and needs.
Attorney Rose Marie Preddy has been helping individuals prepare their estate plans for more than 25 years. She is passionate about working with her clients to create sound estate plans that protect their assets and their loved ones. Attorney Preddy works closely with each client to offer custom-tailored estate planning solutions. She emphasizes maintaining open communication lines to ensure that no issues, questions, or concerns are ignored.
How the Estate Planning Process Works
When preparing an estate plan, the details of the process depend on each individual’s needs. Family and financial circumstances both factor heavily into the estate planning process, as do personal preferences and goals. For example, if you have minor children (or may have minor children in the future), it will be vital to address several issues that may be irrelevant to someone whose children are well-established adults. Likewise, if you own your own business, ensuring a smooth transition while also minimizing any potential tax liability will be key components of your estate planning process.
Overall, our process is fairly straightforward. Here is what you can expect when you choose the trusted Jacksonville estate planning lawyer at Preddy Law Firm, P.A.:
- Schedule an Initial Estate Planning Consultation – Your first step is simply to get in touch. When you contact us, a paralegal or legal secretary will answer any questions you may have about our firm and schedule a time for you to meet with Attorney Rose Marie Preddy.
- Come Prepared with Basic Contact Information – Prior to your initial consultation, we will ask you to gather the names and addresses of your loved ones and bring a rough inventory of the assets you own. Coming prepared with such information will help make the consultation more efficient and relevant to your current situation. Rose Marie Preddy will use the information you provide as a springboard for an in-depth analysis of your current status and recommendations on how to accomplish your desired goals. Meet with Ms. Preddy about Your Estate Plan – Next, it is time to discuss your estate plan with our lawyer one-on-one. During your initial consultation, attorney Preddy will answer all of your questions, examine all of your options in detail, and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses all pertinent considerations.
- Wait to Receive Your Draft Documents – After your initial consultation, the knowledgeable Jacksonville estate planning attorney will draft your estate planning documents. During this time, you should continue to think about your plan, and we encourage you to contact us if you have any additional thoughts or concerns.
- Review, Finalize, and Sign Your Estate Plan – Once your draft documents are complete, we will schedule another time for you to meet with Attorney Rose Marie Preddy to review the draft documents. During the meeting, ample time will be set aside to make all necessary changes. If the document is able to be finalized, it will be signed at that appointment. Otherwise, you may take home the drafts for further review and another appointment will be scheduled to sign the documents.
Types of Estate Planning Tools
Depending on your specific circumstances, goals, and needs, Rose Marie Preddy may recommend a variety of different types of documents to include in your estate plan. Each type of document serves its own specific purpose. Your estate planning documents must work together to build the foundation for preserving and distributing your assets and your future health care needs.
Some of the most common types of estate planning documents include:
- Wills – A will is an essential component of any estate plan. While your will might not necessarily be the best tool for distributing your assets (this task may be better suited for a revocable trust), preparing a will ensures that no assets go overlooked, it allows you to designate a guardian to care for your minor children in your absence, and it allows you to choose the person who will manage your final affairs.
- Revocable Trusts – A revocable trust is a powerful and flexible estate planning tool that many people choose to distribute their assets after death. Revocable trusts avoid the costs and delays of probate. This document can be changed by way of amendments or even revoked as your personal circumstances change during your lifetime.
- Irrevocable Trusts – Irrevocable trusts can be used to achieve various specific estate planning goals, such as estate tax avoidance, creditor protection, and/or preserving a loved one’s eligibility for government benefits. If your estate planning goals are best served by creating an irrevocable trust, Attorney Rose Marie Preddy can recommend the right type of trust for your needs.
- Durable Power of Attorney – A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is an estate planning tool that allows you to designate a loved one to act on your behalf. While it is typically used in the event of your incapacity, Florida law provides that a DPOA is effective upon signing. This can be useful if you would like help with the various powers delegated in the document, but are not incapacitated. Because the DPOA is a powerful document that is effective upon execution, it is important to think carefully about who you designate as your DPOA.
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate – A health care surrogate is similar in certain respects to a DPOA, but it is used specifically to allow someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make these decisions on your own. You can also designate that the health care surrogate be effective even if you are not incapacitated. Your surrogate will also be granted the authority to carry out the terms of your living will.
- Living Will – A living will is a health care planning document, and it serves an entirely different purpose than your “ordinary” will. In the event that you are in an end-stage condition from an injury, illness or into a vegetative state, your living will serves to provide specific guidance to your health care providers and loved ones regarding end-of-life care.
- Designation of Preneed Guardianship – While a durable power of attorney, health care surrogate, and living will are the primary advanced directives, a designation of a preneed guardian is used in court if guardianship proceedings are needed. Guardianship is needed when court supervision is of an individual’s person or property is needed. This document serves to name the person you would prefer to serve as a guardian.
The need for your estate planning documents to work together to address your needs comprehensively is among the most important reasons why you need to choose your estate planning lawyer carefully. Omissions, conflicting terms, and other common issues can leave critical questions unanswered, and they can create unnecessary (and costly) challenges for your loved ones in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Estate Planning
Do you have questions about estate planning? If so, you are not alone. We encourage you to read our answers to the FAQs below, and then we invite you to schedule an initial estate planning consultation with Attorney Rose Marie Preddy:
Q: What is the difference between a will and estate planning?
A will is just one of several documents that can be used to build a comprehensive estate plan. While a will is an integral part of an estate plan, preparing a will may not be sufficient to fully address your estate planning needs.
Q: What is the difference between a will and a trust?
While wills and trusts can both be used to distribute a person’s assets, they are very different estate planning tools. Most notably, a will can (and should) serve various other estate planning functions as well, and establishing a trust can help your loved ones avoid many of the burdens of probate.
Q: How does estate planning work for blended families?
Since estate planning is inherently personal, the process is no different for members of blended and more-traditional families. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can develop a plan that fully addresses your needs in light of your particular family circumstances.
Q: Can I do my own estate planning?
Technically, yes, there is nothing that prohibits you from doing your own estate planning. However, due to the number and complexity of the questions you need to answer during the process, it is not an approach we recommend.
Q: When should I make updates to my estate plan?
In many cases, major life events such as the death or incapacity of a family member, a divorce or change in your desired goals for passing on your property will necessitate estate plan modifications. If you think your estate plan may need to be updated, you are probably right, and you should discuss your needs with an attorney. Attorney Rose Marie Preddy does encourage clients to review their documents every four to five years, if not sooner, to make sure they are still relevant to your current situation.
Schedule an Initial Consultation with Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer Rose Marie Preddy
Are you ready to get to work on your estate plan? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To arrange an initial confidential consultation with Jacksonville estate planning attorney Rose Marie Preddy, please call 904-665-0005 or request an appointment online today.