Estate Planning

We Help People Plan for the Future

The estate planning attorneys at Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene provide people and families with the confidence that comes with knowing that there is a plan in place if they pass away. 

We use several legal tools to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and determine how your property and other assets will be distributed after your death.

Estate Planning With Wills in Florida

A will is a common and effective legal document that allows people to determine the manner in which their assets will be distributed at death. In addition to outlining a person’s wishes with respect to their property, a will names a personal representative, who is tasked with ensuring that creditors are paid and that the terms of the will are carried out.

Estate Planning With Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust is an increasingly popular estate planning tool that can be used to avoid the need for (i) a guardianship during lifetime and (ii) probate at death, but only with respect to assets tilted in the name of the revocable trust. While they do not provide tax or creditor protection benefits, revocable trusts allow for ease of administration in the event of incapacity or death. These trusts allow you to plan for the future while also retaining the ability to change your mind later. They can be amended or revoked at any time before your death.

Other Types of Trusts

In addition to revocable trusts, there are several types of irrevocable trusts used in estate planning, depending on the purpose for which the trust was created.

  • Irrevocable: As the name suggests, an irrevocable trust cannot be altered by the person who creates it (i.e., the settlor) or anyone else. 
  • Asset protection: Third-party trusts (trusts created by someone other than the beneficiary) provide significant protections from the beneficiaries’ creditors, which could include frivolous lawsuits or potentially a divorcing spouse. Unlike in some other states, “self-settled” trusts (trusts created by someone for their own benefit) generally cannot be used to shield property from creditors in Florida.
  • Dynasty or multi-generation: These kinds of trusts are often used to transfer property through multiple generations of family members while also minimizing transfer taxes. 
  • Life insurance: These trusts hold life insurance policies while the insured person is still alive so that the proceeds are not taxed as part of the insured’s estate when the person dies.
  • Retirement: Trusts and other tools can also be used to protect retirement assets, like an IRA or 401(k), from being whittled down by taxes and creditors.
  • Gifting: These trusts are used to make a lifetime gift for the benefit of a beneficiary while taking advantage of the creditor protection, and wealth transfer tax benefits trust can provide. 
  • Charitable: These tax-deductible trusts are designed to benefit charitable organizations, but they can also benefit family members during their lifetime. The charitable beneficiary must qualify as a tax-exempt organization under federal law for the tax deduction to apply. Our estate planning attorneys can also help you explore charitable giving through private foundations and public charities.

Other Types of Florida Estate Planning

Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives

Powers of attorney and advance health care directives allow you to designate agents to make critical financial and health care decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.

A power of attorney authorizes someone (i.e., an agent) to handle your financial affairs during your lifetime if you are unable to manage them. An effective power of attorney can also prevent the need for a guardian to be appointed in the event of your incapacity.

A designation of health care surrogate nominates someone to receive your health care information and to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated.  It is very similar to a power of attorney, but it only applies to health care decisions.

Living wills can be used to direct the type of medical care that you want to receive and certain life-extending treatments that you may prefer not to receive in the event that you are in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state. 

Family Business/Succession Planning

Protecting business interests is often an important part of planning for our clients. We help people and businesses ensure that a plan is in place to keep the business running if an owner or principal passes away, becomes incapacitated, or simply wants to ensure a smooth transition to the next generation of owners.