Estate Planning

Everyone has an estate. An estate is a collection of property owned by someone at the time of their death. Best practices in estate planning in Oldsmar can be simple and consist of only personal effects; or it can be complex and contain real estate properties, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), annuities, and life insurance policies. The size and complexity of your estate determines what documents you need to have in your estate plan to ensure your property will be distributed to the right people.

Estate Planning Areas We Practice

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Healthcare Surrogate
  • Probate
  • Trust Funding
  • Beneficiary Designation Assistance
  • Asset Protection
  • Estate & trust planning and administration
  • Estate, gift & income tax planning

Estate Planning Areas We Practice

As estate planning attorneys in the Tampa Bay area, The Faulkner Firm, P.A. helps clients assess and build an estate plan with a solid foundation. Our knowledgeable attorneys review existing assets, debts, retirement accounts, investments, and goals to provide expert legal analysis and develop a customized estate plan. The process of reviewing your existing financial, familial, and professional obligations will help you to develop personal goals and identify potential concerns. A qualified estate planning attorney in the Tampa Bay area can help you build a tax sensitive, goal-orientated, and personalized estate and legacy plan.

What Can Happen To Your Assets When You Do Not Have An Estate Plan In Place… And How A Trust Could Be Your Solution

In this article you will learn about…

  • What intestacy means.
  • What protections a trust can provide.
  • How an estate plan can help you to protect your legacy.

What Does Intestacy Mean?

Intestacy is the “estate plan” created by the government for a person who failed to plan for his or her assets upon death. This means that if you do not create an estate plan, all your assets will pass through Florida’s Intestacy law, which will define who gets your assets.

For example: if you are married and all of your children are in common with your spouse, if you pass away, all your assets would go to your spouse. Then, upon your spouse’s death, the property would be divided among your children equally (and if a child is deceased, that deceased child’s share would be equally divided among that deceased child’s descendants). In short, your property would pass through the family tree without any input from you.

Unfortunately, the intestacy law was written many years ago and was based on traditional family dynamics; unfortunately, it does not work as well for many, particularly those who have had multiple marriages or who have children from prior relationships. If your family does not fit the traditional definition of a husband and wife with all children in common, then the intestacy law provides that upon your death, your current spouse would receive one-half of your assets and your biological (and legally adopted) children would equally share the other half of your assets. If you wish to provide for all your assets to go your spouse, or all of your assets to go to your children, or for a division between your spouse, your spouse’s children, and your children, then relying on the intestacy law would be disastrous. To make matters worse, leaving assets by intestacy to a person who is incapacitated would require that a guardianship be set up for that person, which involves a lot of delay and costs.

Therefore, creating an estate plan ensures that your assets are divided as you wish and helps avoid unnecessary delays and costs.

What Types Of Trusts Are Used In Estate Planning? What Type of Protections Do They Provide?

The most common type of trust used in estate planning is the revocable trust (also known as “living trust” or “revocable living trust”).

This type of trust is the most commonly used in estate plans for the following reasons:

  • It is a private document and while you are alive no one can read its contents. Upon your death, the beneficiaries have the right to find out what the trust provides; however, depending on how the estate is divided, only some beneficiaries have the right to the entire document while others can only see the portion of the document that applies to them.
  • You can name a power of attorney to look through your documents ahead of time.
  • You may make any changes you wish until the earlier of your disability (meaning mental impairment such as Alzheimer’s Disease) or death, including changing beneficiaries or changing what each beneficiary receives and how they receive it (for example, in trust or outright). If the trust is a joint trust between you and your spouse, you may agree to make the trust unchangeable upon the first of you to die.
  • If you become incapacitated, your trust provides how your money and property should be managed. Further, it provides for management and distributions of assets after your death, effectively allowing you to control how your property is managed even after your death.
  • It helps avoid probate upon your death. This is especially important if you have properties in different states, which may require opening probate in different states. This avoids a lot of delay and costs.

It is important to note that a revocable trust is not used to protect your assets from creditors. While you are alive, you have full ownership and control of the trust and therefore, it does not protect your assets from your own creditors. However, it does help protect your assets from the creditors of your beneficiaries if you leave the beneficiaries’ inheritance in trust with special creditor protection provisions. This is especially important if a beneficiary is a spendthrift or has an occupation that is conducive to lawsuits.

Are There Specific Trusts That Are Better Used For High Income Or High Asset Estate Planning?

In the case of a large estate, other types of trusts may be used to help reduce the size of the estate. These types of trusts include:

  • An irrevocable life insurance trust
  • A grantor retained annuity trust
  • Intentionally defective grantor trust
  • Other irrevocable documents that will allow the high income and high assets to minimize the estate tax that is paid

By using a combination of different trusts, we can reduce the estate’s overall value to:

  • Minimize the taxes paid
  • Maximize the amount that’s given to the family
  • Provide for your family while you are alive or after death
  • Protect such assets from your creditors
  • And more…

Typically, any assets you transfer into one of these trusts can no longer be controlled by you. Irrevocable trusts are vehicles for transferring any property that you do not mind parting with while you are alive so that such property grows outside of your estate as it benefits your beneficiaries. Further, irrevocable trusts are only modifiable or changeable in very specific situations so they are not part of the “primary” estate planning documents that all people should have in place; they are created in addition to a revocable trust. However, they merit a discussion with your attorney as they could be very beneficial depending on your situation.

For more information on Estate Planning Law in Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 939-4900 today.


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Multi-generational wealth

As estate planning and tax attorneys in Tampa Bay, we know that passing along wealth to the next generation has become an intricate and multilayered process. The success of each estate plan rests on our ability to write comprehensive wealth preservation plans that coordinate with our clients’ business succession plans. While small, at The Faulkner Firm, P.A. we are equipped with tax attorneys experienced in advising high net individuals and businesses. Our highly diverse clientele includes families having upwards of $250,000,000, individuals affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Football League (NFL), and families with multi-generational businesses in a wide range of industries. Collectively, our attorneys have more than six decades of practical experience advising individuals and families on tax-efficient methods of transitioning family businesses and wealth.

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4056 Tampa Road
Oldsmar, FL 34677


(727) 939-4900

Office Hours

(Monday – Thursday)
08:30 AM – 05:00 PM
08:30 AM – 03:00 PM

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