St. Johns Estate Planning Attorney
St. Johns Estate Planning Attorney Serving Florida for More Than 20 Years
- Representing Families in St Johns, St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, Orange Park, Fleming Island, and Jacksonville
Estate planning involves looking ahead in your life and developing a plan that addresses a wide range of issues. Two issues should come to mind. First, who will make important decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated? Second, how will your assets be distributed upon your death? Estate planning also helps you and your family plan for major post-retirement expenses, such as long-term care. While these matters might seem far ahead in your future, it is essential that you put a plan in place now to care for you and your family if you become incapacitated or pass away.
Preddy Law Firm, P.A. serves Northeast Florida, including St. Johns County, with more than two decades of experience in advising clients. The firm credits its success and longevity to founding attorney Rose Marie Preddy, who provides one-on-one attention to each of her clients. She approaches every new relationship with a focus on developing a comprehensive understanding of her client’s needs. Regardless of whether you are a life-long Florida resident or a recent arrival, the Preddy Law Firm can help you develop an effective estate plan that will take good care of your family now and into the future.
How the Estate Planning Process Works
An estate plan is personal and should be customized to your unique needs. A good estate planning lawyer recognizes that your situation and priorities are different from anyone else. For example, if you are widowed and have young children, you may want to focus your estate plan on naming a guardian to care for your children in the event anything were to happen to you. Or, if you own a small business, you may want to include business succession planning in your estate plan. Preddy Law Firm, P.A. has an effective system for developing custom-tailored estate plans to meet all of our clients’ needs.
Schedule a Consultation
The first step is to schedule a consultation with Rose Marie. During your consultation, she will answer your questions about the process. Additionally, she will ask targeted questions to better understand your situation and needs. If you are starting your plan, she will also explain your options and the laws regarding estate plans.
Have an Initial Meeting with Rose Marie
Upon scheduling your consultation with Rose Marie, her team will ask you to bring the names and contact information of your loved ones as well as a summary of your assets, their estimated value, and the names of primary and secondary beneficiaries. This information will assist her in advising you on a plan of distribution and possible estate tax issues.
Rose Marie Creates Your Estate Plan
Once you and Rose Marie have identified all of your options, you can then move forward with a plan and Rose Marie and her team will get to work drafting all the necessary documents.
You Have Another Meeting to Review and Sign the Documents
When your estate planning draft documents are complete, Rose Marie will have you return to her office to explain the drafts. She will make any necessary changes and you can then either finalize the documents the same day or take them home for further review.
Types of Estate Planning Tools
There are a wide range of estate planning tools and advanced directives that Rose Marie can use to meet your goals, some of which include:
Last Will and Testament
A Will is the document that is used only in probate court. It has no effect outside of the courthouse, such as handing it to a bank teller to prove you inherited control of a bank account. Ideally you would have a plan outside the language of the Will, such as beneficiary designations or trusts. If you have no other plan but a last will, then the terms of the will govern how you want your assets distributed upon your death, among other things, through probate administration.
A Trust is a three-part relationship where the creator (“grantor”) of the Trust names a trustee to administer the assets on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts for many different purposes including probate avoidance, estate tax reduction, or providing for someone with special needs.
Durable Power of Attorney
The first advanced directive addresses who will make financial decisions on your behalf. A powerful, wide-ranging document is the Durable Power of Attorney. It names an agent, typically another individual, to make important decisions for you. These delegated powers are primarily financial decisions made on your behalf. In Florida, the document is effective upon signing and not incapacity. It is void upon your death.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
The second advanced directive is the Designation of Health Care Surrogate. A health care surrogate allows the designated person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise are unable to communicate your desires.
The third advanced directive in Florida is a Living Will. This document outlines the extent of medical care you want to receive in the event you are in an end-stage condition and are unable to communicate your desires.
Designation of Preneed Guardian
The final advanced directive is the Designation of Preneed Guardian. Guardianship refers to the person who will care for an incapacitated person or minor child. If incapacity proceedings are initiated, this document ensures you will have the guardian of your choosing. Ideally your other advanced directives are in place of guardianship and outside the expense of the court proceedings.
The Benefits of Estate Planning
There are many benefits to estate planning. However, the most important benefit is your peace of mind that your family is going to be cared for regardless of what happens in the future. Estate planning provides certainty, even in the face of an uncertain future. While we never know what life may bring, you can rest easy knowing that your family’s future is in good hands by planning for all contingencies ahead of time. Should you become incapacitated, advanced directives will ensure someone will carry out your plans during your lifetime.
Contact Preddy Law Firm. P.A., Your St. Johns Estate Planning Lawyer
If you do not yet have an estate plan, or it has been years since you last updated your documents, reach out to the St. Johns estate planning attorney Rose Marie Preddy at the Preddy Law Law Firm, P.A. For more than 25 years, the Preddy Law Firm, P.A. has been serving clients across Northeast Florida. To learn more and to schedule a consultation today. You can also connect with our lawyer through our online contact form.