Passionate Estate Planning & Guardianship Lawyers in Tampa Bay
Our Practice of Estate Planning & Guardianship Includes:
For nearly 20 years, successful business owners, professionals and families have looked to our Tampa Bay lawyers to guide them in effectively securing their financial futures. With our belief that effective planning for your family’s financial future means leaving no stone unturned, we will guide you through the following, and other critical estate planning steps:
Providing for incapacity and legal, business, and medical decision-making
Providing for and protecting minor children and grandchildren
Establishing trusts for beneficiaries with special needs
Reducing or eliminating death taxes (the federal estate tax)
Preventing sudden wealth syndrome for beneficiaries
Imparting values and guidance with property
Guardianship & Guardian Advocate
Guardianship is the process where an individual is determined to be incapacitated to a degree which impairs his or her ability to make decisions on their own. The Court can determined some or all of the individual’s rights should be removed and/or delegated to a third person called the Guardian. The Guardian has a duty to act in the best interest of the individual.
Rights which may be removed include: the right to vote, the right to drive, and the right to marry. Rights which may be delegated to the Guardian include: the right to contract, the right to sue and defend, and the right to determine social and residential setting. In the event all rights of an individual are removed and delegated to the Guardian, this is called a Plenary Guardianship. When the individual retains at least one right, such as the right to marry, this is called a Limited Guardianship.
Guardian Advocate is a process for family members, caregivers, or friends of individuals with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf. A Guardian Advocate does not requires the individual with a developmental disability to be determined “incapacitated.” Rather, the Guardian Advocate is appointed to help the individual with making decisions relating to the individual’s person, property, or both. Our attorneys are well versed in all aspects of Guardian Advocacy, particularly given the situation when two or more persons (such as divorced parents) are asking to be appointed which results in determining what is in the individual’s best interest.
Estate planning is the process of writing down instructions and nominating trusted individuals who will take over for you if something happens.
A comprehensive estate will plan for two main life events: (1) you are alive but unable to make your own business, legal, financial, or health care decisions; and (2) you pass away.
For an overview of estate planning documents, review these articles:
Planning and preparation now will save your loved one’s time, money, and emotional strife in the event of your incapacitation or death, both of which are already draining and emotional situations.
If you do not authorize individuals to act on your behalf in the event of incapacitation, your loved ones must petition the court to obtain guardianship over you. Without a Will or Trust in place, your beneficiaries may have to go through the probate process, which will cost additional time, money, and resources.
Estate planning is essential for all Florida residents, regardless of age, net wealth, or occupation. A comprehensive plan will not only benefit you as an individual but ensure your loved ones will not have the financial and legal burden to obtain the same authority you could have easily granted with an estate plan.
Our attorneys can help you find the best plan to suit your needs. Give us a call at 813-498-2757 for a free consultation.
Yes. Florida Statute §736.0706 states the settlor, a co-Trustee, or a beneficiary may request the Court to remove a trustee, or the Court may remove a trustee on the Court’s initiative. The Court may remove a trustee if:
- The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust;
- The lack of cooperation among co-Trusteesco-trustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust;
- Due to the unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure of the Trustee to administer the trust effectively, the Court determines that the removal of the Trustee best serves the interests of the beneficiaries;
- There has been a substantial change of circumstances, or removal is requested by all of the qualified beneficiaries, the Court finds that removal of the Trustee best serves the interests of all of the beneficiaries and is not inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust, and a suitable co-Trustee or successor Trustee is available.
- Inventory your assets and estimate their value.
- Homes, land, or other real estate.
- Vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, or boats.
- Collectibles such as coins, art, antiques, or trading cards.
- Personal possessions.
- Checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit
- Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Life insurance policies.
- Retirement plans such as workplace 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts.
- Health savings accounts
- Business ownership
- Digital assets
- Anticipate family conflicts.
- Plan for federal and/or state estate taxes.
- Prepare for Long-term care.
- Speak to your Personal Representative or Healthcare Surrogate before nominating them.
- One of the most important decisions you will make for your estate plan is who you choose as the administrator or personal representative of your will and who will speak on your behalf in the event of incapacitation. We always advise speaking with this individual before nominating them.
- Set up guardianship for minor children and dependents.
- Document your wishes for your children’s continued care
- Keep your beneficiaries up to date.
- Plan to reassess.
- Life changes. So should your estate plan.
For more tips, a breakdown of documents, and questions to answer before you begin drafting your plan, review these articles:
- If you do not properly authorize someone to act on your behalf in the event of incapacitation, your loved ones must petition the court to obtain guardianship over you. A guardianship is the legal proceeding in Florida in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person.
A Guardian is a court-appointment position, typically an individual who advocates on behalf of their ward (a ward is the person who is incapacitated) and is responsible for whatever decisions cannot be made by the ward.
- Types of Guardianship:
- Guardianship of the property – gives the Guardian the authority to make financial decisions and manage the ward’s property and money, as directed by the Court. The Court requires annual filings as a check and balance to ensure that the ward’s assets are not manipulated and the ward’s interests are always protected.
- Alternatives – Guardianship may not always be appropriate, and there are other alternatives available to ensure that an individual is adequately protected and cared for, including:
- Supported Decision-Making
- Representative Payee
- Health Care Proxy
- Power of Attorney
For more information, read our article, Estate Planning Part 1- Planning for IncapacitationGuardian Advocacy- this is a special type of guardianship that is reserved for Wards who have an intellectual disability. Under Florida Statute §393.063(12), a person with a developmental disability must have an Intellectual Disability (IQ less than 70), Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Spina Bifida, Downs Syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, or Prader-Willi syndrome that manifested before the age of 18; and that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.
- Guardianship of the person – gives the Guardian the authority to continue to help the individual with everyday decisions, including health care, social, and educational decisions. The Guardian is responsible for ensuring the ward’s best interests are being met and that the ward receives the daily care and necessities required.
A special needs trust in Florida describes any trust that includes provisions designed to protect a physically or mentally disabled trust beneficiary’s eligibility for need-based government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Why is a Special Needs Trust important?
This kind of trust is important for a number of reasons. For one, they are designed to prevent trust assets from being counted for purposes of government benefit eligibility. The trust agreement typically allows the Trustee to distribute income or assets to a beneficiary only if the distribution does not disqualify or diminish a beneficiary’s government benefit, such as Medicaid.