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Wills/Trusts

Our experienced Central Florida attorneys want to help you plan for the future. It's never too early to assure your wishes will be carried out, regardless of the circumstances. Having legal documents will give you peace of mind and spare your loved ones difficulties in the future. Based in Casselberry, our boutique firm offers personalized attention as we guide you through estate planning.

WILLS VS TRUSTS

Wills are written documents that indicate a person's intentions and wishes. A last will outlines the desired distribution of your personal property after death, while a living will outlines your wishes in regard to medical care if you are no longer able to make decisions.

Trusts are similar to wills and can be used along with a will, as both provide instructions for your assets. However, a trust is different in that it specifically gives a person or organization the right to your assets and can go into effect while you are still alive. A trust indicates a trustee, who manages the trust, and a beneficiary, who is entitled to the benefits of the assets.

Without either a will or a trust, your assets are governed by the State of Florida upon your death. The state's laws will determine what a fair allocation of your estate is, taking into consideration surviving spouse and children. Dividing assets without instructions can be a very long and complicated process, and the results may be against your wishes. In order to avoid putting your loved ones through such difficulties and to secure your assets, contact our Orlando attorneys. Their experience with Florida law will help you create a plan for you and your family's future. Call our Casselberry office at (407) 477-4143 to schedule a consultation.

WHY A TRUST?

Trusts are typically used for large estates but offer benefits that may be useful for smaller estates as well. The two most common benefits are that a trust can lower your estate taxes and allows your loved ones to avoid probate. Probate is the administration of your estate after death, which can be an expensive, time-consuming, and public process even if you have a will. For more information on probate and how we can help you through the process, please see our page on probate under "Areas of Law."

These benefits are not absolute, however, and depend on the type of trust you choose. A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, maintains your control over your assets while you are alive and can be changed or dissolved at any time. A revocable trust avoids probate after death but is unlikely to lower your estate taxes. In contrast, an irrevocable trust cannot be changed after you have signed it. The assets in question are removed from your estate, therefore reducing or eliminating taxes on those assets as well as relinquishing your control.

Keep in mind that trusts do not have to include all of your assets and that you may have more than one trust or a combination of a will and trust. There are countless options for your estate, and our Orlando attorneys have the experience to figure out what works best for you. Contact the Law Offices of Smith & Kurbatova to schedule a consultation and start planning for the future. With so much to consider, it's better to start sooner rather than later, and our Central Florida attorneys are ready when you are.

THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE

A personal representative is tasked with administering the estate as instructed by the will. This includes all of the following:

  • Identify and collect all assets
  • Manage investments
  • Notify creditors and beneficiaries
  • File tax returns
  • Pay off debts and administration expenses
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries
  • Report accountings to court

By Florida law, a personal representative must be represented by a Florida attorney unless he or she is the only person who may inherit from the estate. The personal representative, the attorney, and any other professionals involved in the process are entitled to compensation, which is typically paid from the estate assets.

If you've been named the personal representative in a will, trust the Law Offices of Smith & Kurbatova to represent you. Based in Casselberry, our Central Florida attorneys have the experience you need to help fulfil your duties as a personal representative. The probate process can be long and complicated when you're tasked with administering the estate, so allow our skilled attorneys to help you through this difficult time.

THE PROBLEMS WITH PROBATE

There are many difficulties that arise due to probate, the first being that it is a long process that can become longer if there are complications. An average probate in Florida can take about eight to twelve months to complete, and during that time, assets may not be available to the beneficiaries who need them. More so, if the decedent owns property in more than one state, separate probates may need to be filed, further complicating matters.

Another issue is that the probate process is public, and most of the documents pertaining to the case become public record. The decedent's private matters, such as who he or she owed money to and how much their estate is worth, are no longer private.

Finally, probate can be very expensive, as the personal representative, attorneys, accountants, and court fees must be compensated. Probate typically costs about four to eight per cent of the estate's value, which can add up to be thousands of dollars.

Ultimately probate is a complicated process that no one should have to go through alone. Whether you've been named the personal representative or are a beneficiary, our Orlando attorneys are prepared to represent your best interests. Contact our Casselberry office at (407) 477-4143 to schedule a consultation.

WITHOUT A WILL?

While having a will means being subject to probate, not having a will makes the probate process more complicated, as the State of Florida determines the estates administration. In this case, there is not a designated personal representative and the tasks of collecting and distributing assets becomes the job of the State. Florida law outlines what they believe to be fair allocation of an estate, but this may not necessarily align with what the decedent and his or her family deem to be appropriate.

If you've found yourself undergoing probate without a will from your loved one, contact our Orlando attorneys to fight for your interests. Representing clients in Orlando, Casselberry, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, and throughout Central and Southern Florida, we have the experience to help ease this complicated process.

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