RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
“Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results.”
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Probate|Estate

Gainesville Probate Law & Estate Planning Attorneys


Our skilled estate planning attorneys J. Mark Dubose, Jr., and Karen S. Yochim have years of experience proudly serving Gainesville, Florida.

Establishing your estate plan is a sensitive task that requires a detailed hand and sound recommendations.

At the law office of Alba & Yochim P.A, we recognize the intimidating and delicate nature of planning for your family’s future. By facing the inevitable and documenting a clear distribution of wealth, our clients can rest assured that their estate has been cared for.

What is Estate Planning?

An individual’s estate is the sum of their net worth and assets. This includes all properties, inheritances, stocks, bonds and personal belongings. Estate planning is the process by which an individual arranges for the transfer of assets to his or her beneficiaries after death. Beneficiaries frequently include immediate family members or heirs and charities.

What is a Will?

A will is a written, legal document that outlines how an individual’s estate will be distributed after death. Depending on the size of the estate and the number of beneficiaries, a will can be simple or elaborate

Wills

Standard wills focus on the distribution of an estate and can be changed or revoked at any time. Under Florida law, a will must meet the following requirements to be valid.

  • Individual must be at least 18 years old, be of sound mind and body upon signing the will.
  • Individual must sign in presence of two witnesses and a notary.
  • The will must be approved by a probate court after death.

Additionally, Florida law prohibits wills from completely disinheriting surviving spouses, selling jointly owned property or distributing inheritance to a Cuban national.

Changing or revoking a will

An individual can change or revoke their will at any time prior to death. To protect the integrity of the will, codicils should be used to make formal additions or amendments to a preexisting will. A change can also be made automatically by operation of law, in some instances.

Living wills

Unlike standard wills, a living will does not include property distribution. A living will specifies what medical procedures should be used to prolong your life, should you become incapacitated. Living wills are signed in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom cannot be a blood relative or spouse.

When creating your will, clients are encouraged to appointment a Personal Representative, Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate and Guardian for their children. Together, these three positions provide united representation should you become ill or pass away suddenly.

When considering who to appoint, keep the following in mind:

  • Personal Representative. Appointed as part of the will, this person executes the wishes of the individual making the will. Often a trusted friend or family member, representatives should be aware of their duties prior to appointment. They must be at least 18 years old and have not been convicted of a felony.
  • Power of Attorney. A power of attorney can allow someone to manage your assets for you. This person should be well informed of your ongoing financial matters and be comfortable taking on this role. He or she will have the ability to manage and transfer assets, deal with the IRS, make gifts and amend trusts in your name. For these reasons, careful consideration should go into choosing a power of attorney.
  • Health Care Surrogate. In the event you can no longer make decisions for yourself, a health care surrogate will hold the right to make health-related decisions for you. He or she will be authorized to consent for treatments as well as refuse them on your behalf. Understandably, this position comes with an incredible amount of responsibility. Great care and discussion is recommended before appointing a friend or family member to this position.
  • Guardianship of Your Children. The safety, health and well-being of your children are often the cornerstone of an estate plan. Clients with young children are strongly encouraged to document guardianship. Losing a parent is unimaginable, but by securing a guardian, you can establish a safe and stable environment for your child.

Dying without a will

When a person passes without a will, or intestate, their property is distributed by the state. Florida law is rather strict and will only recognize relatives as beneficiaries. This leaves friends, significant others and charities out completely. The intestate distribution processes are more time-consuming and complicated compared to that of dying with a Will.

Alternatives to Wills

Florida offers alternative estate plans to transfer assets after death instead of or in conjunction with a will.

  • Irrevocable Living Trusts. Irrevocable trusts allow all assets to be transferred directly to a Trust for the benefit of heirs. These are often used to hold life insurance proceeds. They are effective immediately and not revocable or modifiable in most instances.
  • Testamentary Trusts. Often created for minors, testamentary trusts are effective upon death and normally modifiable or revocable until then. A trustee is assigned to monitor the funds until the child is eligible to receive it.
  • Payable on Death Accounts. Any bank account can be made payable-on-death by simply completing a bank form. The form dictates who will inherit the funds once the signer passes. The funds do not have to go through the normal probate process.
  • Life Estate Deed. A simple transfer of property from one person to another. A life estate deed allows the original owner to continue to live in the house for the rest of their life. But upon death, the residence will be left directly to the other person.
  • Cash / Property Gifts Before Death. The most straightforward way to transfer assets. An individual simply gives away money, property and personal items to family and friends before death.
  • Life Insurance. A life insurance policy can be made payable to a specific beneficiary, such as a family member, instead of the deceased estate and thus avoid the normal probate process. This is often a very effective means to provide support for an heir immediately upon death to handle estate and funeral expenses and provide support for the heir until probate can be completed.

The Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. values estate planning as a vital step in protecting your family’s future. Our practice understands the complexities associated with your unique estate plan and are ready to guide you each step of the way.


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