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Maastricht
Law Offices

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is "Estate Plannning"?
    "Estate" is a big-sounding word. Everyone who owns one thing--even a car or furniture and personal effects--has an estate. "Estate planning," done right, is the process of organizing and best-using your assets while you are alive; setting out to whom they should go when you pass away; naming a person(s) to administer that task; naming guardians for your minor children; naming a person(s) to make health care and financial decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated; memorializing your wishes regarding artificial life support, burial or cremation; leaving instructions regarding your digital accounts; and making sure that every asset is documented within your plan so that none of them revert to the state's Division of Unclaimed Property. In addition, proper estate planning includes the careful consideration of income, capital gains, and/or estate taxes on your estate and beneficiaries.
  2. What if I do nothing?
    The Florida State Legislature has prepared an estate plan for you that applies if you do not do your own. Yikes! A probate matter will usually have to be opened. The courts will follow the Florida Statutes in winding up your estate. Probate takes from 6 months (and that is an optimistic estimate) to 18 months, as a low average. It can take longer if there are court delays, attorney delays, family or creditor disputes, missing heirs, people who come forward claiming to be heirs, or property in other states that may have to be probated in those states too, as an ancillary action to your Florida probate case. Don't let this happen to your family. Let's get your planning done so that you can free yourself to be present with your family instead of having this nagging worry about it as you are trying to live your best life.
  3. What are your fees?
    There is no cost for our initial meeting, which we call our "Discovery Session." If you decide to become one of our fabulous clients, the fee depends on the services that we are providing. For Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, and Special Needs Trusts. we mostly charge flat fees, so no ongoing billing, no surprise bills. For Probate and Trust Administration, we endeavor to charge a flat fee, but sometimes the particular case lends itself to an hourly arrangement. If so, we will agree in writing as to a fair hourly fee and we will communicate with you as the case proceeds regarding those fees.
  1. Can't I just do a trust myself?
    It's a risky proposition. It is devoid of a relationship with and counseling from an attorney, and consideration of the many complexities that a plan can involve. For example, REAL protection for your kids, avoiding expensive and lengthy probate, asset protection, complexities with regard to planning in blended families and second marriages, preventing your assets from ending up with the state, minimizing income or capital gains taxes, minimizing or eliminating the estate tax, how to choose fiduciaries, and many other issues. A friend of mine who lost her Dad told me that her Dad did his own documents, and they didn't work at all. They ended up spending thousands of dollars in probate court to administer his estate, not to mention the aggravation, heartache, and lost work his kids had to endure in dealing with the probate process.
  2. Will vs. Trust
    Both a will and a trust can direct to whom and how your assets should be passed upon your death. A trust, however, can also allow your estate to avoid the lengthy, expensive, and tedious probate process. A trust can likewise allow for a smooth transition during your life of the handling of your financial matters if you become unable to handle them. Trusts can also establish wonderful protections for your kids and grandkids, such as protection of their inheritance from creditors, spouses in divorce, spouses in second marriages, protection from themselves if they are not yet able to handle money responsibly, or if they are struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs. Trusts can also aide in tax planning and charitable giving.
  3. Assets to revert to State?
    Assets can end up with the Florida Division of Unclaimed Property ("FDUP") when they are not properly accounted for in your estate plan (or lack of plan), and essentially remain unfound by your heirs. We make it a priority to prevent this from happening by carefully cataloguing your assets and helping you to make sure that the list stays current and with your estate planning documents. Most estate planning attorneys unfortunately don't do this. The FDUP has over $1 billion in unclaimed property . Just for fun, check out www.fltreasurehunt.org and type in your name or the name of a friend or family member. You never know!
It is common knowledge among the health care community that nursing home care can financially devastate the spouse at home and the family.  With proper planning, all or most of your assets can be protected.  
What About Medicaid Planning?  Will I Lose Everything?​​​​
In order to put a proper Medicaid plan into place, call us today and we will guide you.  This area of the law is not only complex, but is swirling with misinformation in the community about what to do or not to do.  Misguided actions CAN lead to financial ruin so please come see us for a complimentary consultation.  

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