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St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney

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Estate Planning Process

Estate planning at Kira Doyle Law is not one size fits all for everyone. We offer three levels of planning to suit your individual needs.

Our firm believes in personalized service for every client. Our approach is educational and proactive – we determine each client’s individual needs, desires and values, and tailor their plan to best fulfill their dreams.

Leaving A Legacy

After you are gone, your loved ones will miss you deeply. They will long for your words of counsel and concern. Hearing your voice again would be a tremendous gift.

Many people believe that estate planning is only for people who are particularly wealthy, have elaborate schemes in mind for passing their money to their heirs, or for people who are acutely ill and contemplating their death. This could not be farther from the truth!

Estate planning is for every husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, business owner, professional, or anyone else who has someone they care about, are concerned about providing responsibly for their own well-being and for the well-being of those they love, and for anyone who seeks to make a difference in the lives of others after they’re gone. Estate planning is not ‘death planning’; it’s ‘life planning’, an essential and important process for everyone to engage in to ensure peace of mind that your wishes are carried out both during your lifetime and after your death.

This process almost always requires the preparation of several sophisticated legal documents, but those documents themselves are not ‘estate planning.’ Planning is a process, represented by a complete strategy that is properly documented and maintained by a St. Petersburg estate planning attorney who has taken the time to get to know you, and who is committed to continuing to serve you.

The basic estate planning documents everyone should have in place are:

Last Will & Testament – A legal document that tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die, and who has the power and responsibility to wrap up your affairs. Through the probate process the court will give the ‘executor’ of your will the authority to gather all of your property, pay any remaining creditors’ bills, and distribute your remaining property as you specify in your will. Because the will takes effect only after a court determined that it is a valid document, a judge must act before your executor can step in and manage your estate.

Durable Power of Attorney – A carefully written Durable Power of Attorney will allow you to name someone you trust to serve as your Agent and to deal with matters affecting your property, real or personal, as you so designate. Basically, your Agent is given the power to act on your behalf, as if you were present and acting, with respect to your property. Numerous types of transactions are spelled out in the Durable Power of Attorney document to eliminate any question as to the broad scope of your Agent’s authority. Being a “durable” power means that your Agent is authorized to continue to act for you while you are incapacitated (if a guardian is not appointed for you).

Designation of Health Care Surrogate – A Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows your family member or trusted friend to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors. A Designation of Health Care Surrogate not only saves precious decision-making time, but it also makes sure that the individual you trust the most has the power to make these most important decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions on your own.

Living Will – The Living Will is a statutory form, used to state your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures if you become terminally ill. The Living Will works with the Designation of Health Care Surrogate to provide a full set of directions to your physician.

Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian – The Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian is a written document which states your preference for a guardian of both you and your property should you be determined by a Court of competent jurisdiction to be an incapacitated person as that term is defined under Florida Guardianship Law.

Revocable (“Living”) Trust – The Trust Agreement creates what is typically referred to as a “Living Trust”. The Trust Agreement is entirely revocable and amendable by you during your lifetime, but becomes irrevocable at death. Any assets that you transfer (or ‘fund’) to the Trust during your lifetime will remain within your control and will avoid probate upon your death. Assets that you do not transfer (or ‘fund’) to the Trust will be subject to probate, but will pass to the Trust through the probate process (under your “Pour-over Will”). The expectation is that you will transfer all of your assets to the Trust so that it will not be necessary to probate your Will. Revocable Trusts can be excellent vehicles for disability planning, privacy and probate avoidance.

Pour-over Will – A Pour-over Will is a specific type of will used in conjunction with your Revocable (“Living”) Trust. In the event that you die with assets outside of your Revocable Living Trust, a Pour-over Will acts to complete your estate plan, by “pouring” those assets into your Revocable Trust.

And if you have minor children, the following documents are highly recommended:

  • Designation of Health Care Surrogate for Minor Child – This is a document  where a parent grants authority to another adult empowering the latter to deal  with medical issues for their minor child, including the ability to make health care  decisions. 
  • Power of Attorney for Care of Minor Child – This is a form of a power of attorney where a parent grants authority to another adult to deal with certain custodial issues for a minor child, for example, when parents go out of town and leave their child with relatives.  Though it is not statutorily authorized, it represents as effective an attempt to convey other natural guardian rights as is currently possible. 
  • Nomination of Guardian for Minor ChildThis is a document where a parent nominates another adult to have custody of their minor child and provides directions for guardianship in the event something happens to the parent.

The above documents will comprise a comprehensive estate plan that can provide substantial legal protections for your hard-earned assets and property, as well as provide for your surviving family members. You can also make sure that you have made your end-of-life wishes known and understood by executing your advanced directives (durable powers of attorney, designation of health care surrogates & living wills) and naming the individuals you trust to respect and carry out your wishes.

Estate Planning at Kira Doyle Law is not “one size fits all” for everyone. We offer many levels of planning to suit your individual needs.

Our firm believes in personalized service for every client. Our approach is educational and proactive – our St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorneys determine each client’s needs, objectives and values, and then tailor a plan to best fulfill the client’s goals.

We represent families throughout varying stages of life:

  • Traditional two parent families or single parents wishing to provide for and protect their children and themselves
  • Unmarried couples who are either solidifying their relationship through proper planning or dissolving their relationship with the assistance of caring counsel
  • Blended families negotiating the challenges of creating new relationships with varying expectations
  • High net worth families seeking strategies for minimizing estate and income taxes
  • Estate executors and beneficiaries navigating the court process of probate administration
  • Family members or trustees carrying out the legacy left behind through a trust administration

With each of our Estate Plans we include a complimentary 3 year review to ensure that as our clients’ lives change, so do their Estate Plans. We also ensure that all of our clients’ assets are held properly for maximum protection. Our clients benefit from the care we offer to the whole family from estate checkups to basic estate planning documents for young adult children. Schedule your personal Estate Planning Session and become part of our client family!

Preparing for Your Estate Planning Session

After scheduling your appointment, you will receive your Estate Planning Worksheet. Your completed Estate Planning Worksheet must be returned to our office at least 3 days prior to your Estate Planning Session, either by mail or electronic mail so that we can properly plan for our time together. Feel free to call the office at any time if you need assistance completing your worksheet or have any questions at all.

If you have existing estate planning documents, please make sure that you send them to our office with your Estate Planning Worksheet so that we can review them prior to meeting with you.

What to Expect the Day of Your Estate Planning Session

On the day of your meeting we will dedicate 2 hours to you. The initial meeting helps to identify whether there is a good fit between you and our team, and to collaborate with you to utilize the best Estate Planning tools for you and your family. By assessing your current plan, together with your attorney’s guidance you can choose our Family, Trust or Wealth Plan that will be the best for you to protect your family.

What Happens Next?

Once you and your attorney have completed the design of your plan, we will review your assets for the purpose of ensuring that everything you own will be titled for maximum protection. We will schedule a meeting for you to sign your Estate Planning documents approximately 4 weeks later.

At the final signing appointment, we review your documents with you to make it easy for you to understand your Estate Plan. You will know for certain that we understood exactly the way you want things to happen and that your loved ones will be in excellent hands with our firm. This is only the beginning of our relationship. At our final meeting, you will pick up your original executed documents and a USB containing electronic copies of all of your documents along with further instructions for you and your loved ones. We will also verify that all of your asset transfers are moving forward and are on track with the Plan you have chosen. We are happy to answer any question that may arise, and there’s no charge for that!

What Happens After I Sign My Estate Planning Documents and Take Them Home?

After the planning and execution phases are completed, we urge you to reach out to us to review your Estate Plan at a minimum of three years later, at no charge. Our St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney will look to any changes in your life and any changes in the law to make sure your documents are still doing what they were designed to do. Finally, we are always here for you and we don’t charge you for phone calls or emails. We welcome your communications!

You’ll be amazed at how easy and painless the entire planning process will be for you and your family. After meeting with us, clients routinely say, “Wow, if we had known how easy this would be, we would have done it years ago!”

Find Out How a St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You

Whether you are entering retirement or graduating from college, taking steps to have an adequate estate plan can give you peace of mind and also can ensure that your beneficiaries have a simpler time settling your affairs. At Kira Doyle Law, we help clients of all ages design the estate plan that is right for them and their loved ones. Please call our office at 727-537-6818 to learn more from our experienced St. Petersburg estate planning attorneys today.

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