As with other areas of law practice, Attorney Mark Schleben also has extensive experience in wise and prudent estate planning, and in the timely handling of necessary probate actions in court. Mark will guide you through the sensitive estate planning process to create the following types of legal documents designed to protect your estate and your loved ones:
Trusts are valuable instruments that can be a main component of most estate plans, even if you don’t have substantial assets. Trusts are developed to handle the private holding of the Grantor’s property, along with the distribution of that property to designated beneficiaries upon the Grantor’s death, without intervention by the Probate Court — since property conveyed to the trust is not subject to the Probate Court’s jurisdiction. Trusts can help limit estate taxes and other legal challenges, but must be carefully worded to ensure that the Grantor’s wishes are followed.
A Last Will and Testament is another type of legal document that distributes property after the testator’s death, in accordance with the testator’s wishes. The Last Will and Testament is filed with the Probate Court upon the testator’s death, and generally names a person to administer the estate, along with designated guardian(s) of any surviving minor children. If a person dies and has no will, the property will be distributed and guardians appointed by the Court in accordance with the Florida Statute. If there’s a will filed but no person or administrator has been named to represent the deceased, then it becomes necessary for an attorney to petition the Probate Court to appoint a personal representative to the deceased’s estate.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a helpful legal document that appoints a person of your choice to act on your behalf as your agent when you cannot do so yourself, and can give your agent the power to transact real estate, enter into financial transactions, and make other legal decisions as if they were you. This type of POA is revocable by the principal at any time of their choosing, provided that the principal remains mentally competent.
Absent a power of attorney, a court may be left to decide what happens to your assets if you are found to be mentally incompetent, and the court’s decision may not be what you wanted.
Living Wills are legal documents that specify medical treatments that you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as spelling out your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.
Healthcare Power of Attorneys are similar legal documents used to designate a person of your choice (typically a spouse or family member) to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to do so. If you decide to execute such a document, you should pick someone you trust, who shares your views, and who you believe would recommend a course of action you would agree with. After all, this person could literally have your life in their hands.
Probate is a legal action in the Circuit Probate Court whereby the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries according to the wishes of the decedent as stated in the Last Will and Testament, or if there is no will, according to Florida Law. The Probate Court oversees the estate of the deceased to ensure all debts are paid and assets are properly distributed. Probate is required when a court order is needed to transfer ownership of the deceased’s properties or to distribute the assets of the estate. Probate may not be needed if all assets are jointly held and the joint holder is the survivor.
Probate matters are governed by Florida Statute laws and the Florida Probate Rules of Procedure.
In all these and other areas of Estate Planning, Attorney Mark Schleben is very well equipped to help you make the wise decisions that will ensure your wishes are followed and that your loved ones are protected and cared for.