Tag Archives: Will

Here is a list of quick tips for what to do after you leave the attorney’s office:

  • Keep your original documents in a safe and secure place.
  • Make sure your agent under your Power of Attorney knows where you keep your documents and that he or she has the name of your attorney.
  • Give copies of your Medical Directives to the people you have named in the documents; your Primary Care Physician and other Health Care providers should also have a copy.
  • Discuss your wishes for health care and end of life choices with your chosen agents. Don’t make them guess what you would want.
  • If you have not already done so, consider Pre-paid funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements. It is not only less costly but when the time comes, it will ease the burden for your loved ones who are grieving your loss.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Is Your Will a Private Document?  NO!

In Florida, a Will must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the county where you are residing at the time of your death.  A Will is a public record.  Other documents that must be filed during the probate process are the Inventory and Accounting-documents which contain very specific information about your assets.

This issue was recently in the news when The New York Times filed a lawsuit seeking access to the sealed Will of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird The Times argued that “Ms. Lee’s privacy concerns were no different from those of others whose wills are processed through the court system.” The Times won, and Harper Lee’s Will is now a public record.

You can avoid this public process and keep your affairs private through the use of a Revocable Living Trust.  Like a Will, a Trust’s main purpose is to control the disposition of your property at death,   But, unlike a Will, one of the advantages of a Trust is that there is no Probate and no public airing of your assets in a filed Inventory.

With a Revocable Living Trust, your property and their values remain private.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

As one year ends and the new one beckons, it is time for your annual estate planning check-up!

This is a good time to make sure your estate plan reflects the events in your life, those both within and beyond your control.

  1. Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way. A Will says how you want your assets distributed upon your death. But, don’t just put your will in the safe or drawer and then forget about it.  Review your Will and determine if any changes are needed because of changed family circumstances; for example, is the person you named to be your Personal Representative or guardian still the right one for the job?  Or, maybe one of your children has a problem handling money – should his or her money be held in trust rather than given outright?
  2. Consider a Living Trust. Like a Will, a living trust provides for the distribution of your assets when you die.  But, unlike a Will, a living trust can avoid the probate process – probate involves a Court and can be lengthy and expensive. Trusts are also more private as they are generally not required to be recorded upon death.
  3. Who has the Power? Who have you named in your Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directives?  Are they still the right people to handle your finances and make medical decisions if you cannot do so for yourself?
  4. Think about your end-of-life decisions. Do you have a current Living Will that provides guidance to loved ones concerning difficult end-of-life decisions? Does your Living Will discuss tube feeding, artificial hydration, and use of certain medications if you become terminally ill and can no longer speak for yourself?  Make sure your Living Will ensures that all your wishes are met.

 

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms offers free estate planning consultations. Consider bringing your documents to her for a New Year’s check-up! Don’t wait until it’s too late! Call for your free consultation~386.256.4882 or toll-free 877.447.4667.

Most people are not aware of the value of a certified estate planning attorney. Most people generally believe they have planned well if they have a will in place. A will may not be the best plan because a will does not avoid probate when you die. Interesting fact: a will must be examined by the probate court judge before it can be admitted to probate. A defective will not be accepted and your estate will be administered as though you don’t even a have a will!

Basic estate planning definitions:

  • Will – Only goes into effect when you die. It is a legal document that names the beneficiaries who inherit a person’s assets and names a representative to administer and distribute the estate.
  • Probate – Legal process used by the court to ensure debts are paid and assets distributed in accordance to your will. If you don’t have a valid will your assets are distributed according to state law.
  • Living Trust – Legal document, similar to a Will in that it contains your instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die; however, it avoids probate at death because your assets pass to a trustee and then to your beneficiaries; an additional advantage is that it can provide for control of your trust assets while you are alive which prevents the court from controlling your assets if you become incapacitated. In other words, a living trust which provides for incapacity can avoid a Guardianship proceeding whereby you would become a Ward of the State!

The Simms Law Firm recommends a simple and proven alternative to a will which is the revocable living trust. It avoids probate and lets you keep control of your assets while you are alive- even if you become incapacitated – and after you die.

So what is the downside of probate?

Four simple points really.

Expensive – Legal/executor fees and other costs have to be paid before assets can be fully distributed to your heirs.
Time – Probate can take six months to two years to process an estate. Nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or executor approval. Tough break if your family needs the funds for living expenses.
● No privacy – Probate is a public process. That means “interested parties” cull these notices and can slow down the process to contest the will.
● No control – The process is tied up internally in the court process – this takes the whole process out of your hands. Courts move slowly because of the court calendar; public information and claims on the estate.

Debra G. Simms

To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

Planning for the end of life…..hard to do….

Last week my dear Uncle Bernie died. He was 80 years old. He didn’t plan to die, but I know that he didn’t plan to live forever, either. One thing I know for sure, he PLANNED.

A death in the family is one of the hardest times in a person’s life. We all know that grief causes both emotional and physical pain and can keep us from sleeping, eating, working, and certainly keeps us from thinking clearly for a long time.  But during the chaotic and stressful days after the loss of a loved one, a lot of important decisions must be made.

Is your estate planning up to date?

A well thought out and properly drafted Last Will and Testament can alleviate a good deal of stress for the ones you care about the most.  And for those of us who aren’t really sure whether our kids or grandkids are ready to handle money, then setting up Trusts can delay when your bounty reaches their hands.

My Uncle Bernie had a lot of plans. He didn’t get to all of them when illness struck, but when he passed, his sons were able to carry out his wishes and instructions because he did plan for death. By making a Will, you know that you put your affairs in order, and your family will know that you cared enough to do so.

Call the Law Office of Debra G. Simms.   We offer consultations to help you decide what estate plan is best for you.

Orlando

Toll free: 1-877-447-4667

Debra G. Simms

Estate Planning Law

You should periodically review your documents to make sure they are up to date.  Has your family situation changed due to divorce or the birth of a grandchild?  Do you need to change the people you have named as your fiduciaries? (Executor/Personal Representative) Who is your agent in your Power of Attorney?  Is that still the person you most trust?
Sometimes documents need to be changed to conform to new laws.  For example, the new health privacy rules may require a change in your Advance Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney?  Does your Living Will include your wishes concerning food or water even if there is no hope of recovery?  Have you planned to reduce estate or gift taxes?
Call our offices for a consultation to determine whether you need to revise your existing documents. For a estate planning consultation call 1-877-447-4667
Debra G. Simms
To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
646 N Dixie Fwy
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667