A will is a legal document created by you in order to control the distribution of your assets after your death. A will allows you to designate the beneficiaries of your estate, including a plan for the distribution of your assets to your spouse, children and others. In the State of Florida, if you do not have a will your estate becomes “intestate,” meaning that a Florida probate court will determine the allocation of your estate regardless of your intentions.

A will ensures that the distribution of your assets aligns with your final goals and wishes. Consequently, dying without a will means that your survivors will likely face a tedious and costly legal process that may not end favorably. 

Pour Over Wills: A Florida Pour-Over Will can ensure that your any assets included in your probate estate are directed to your Revocable Trust(s). Without a Florida Pour-Over Will, the State of Florida will distribute assets in accordance with the state’s statutes. The Pour-Over Will can also provide guardians for your minor children and serve as a failsafe in the situation your trust is not valid, or not in existence at the time of your death.

Revocable Trust: A revocable trust is an agreement created by you to manage your assets during your lifetime and distribute the remaining assets after your death. The person who creates a trust is called the “grantor” or “settlor.” The person responsible for the management of the trust assets is the “trustee.” You can serve as trustee, or you may appoint another person, bank or trust company to serve as your trustee. The trust is “revocable” since you may modify or terminate the trust during your lifetime, as long as you are not incapacitated.

Most trust agreements allow the grantor to withdraw money or assets from the trust at any time. If you become incapacitated, the trustee is authorized to continue to manage your trust assets, pay your bills, and make investment decisions. This may avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian of your property. This is one of the advantages of a revocable trust.

Irrevocable Trust:  An irrevocable trust is an asset protection tool in planning for government benefits (“Medicaid”). A disadvantage is these Trusts generally cannot be modified or terminated once they have been created.

Irrevocable Trusts in Florida can be written to achieve a wide variety of goals, including: avoid guardianship in the event you become impaired and cannot make decisions on your own; estate tax shelters; protect assets from creditors; charitable estate planning; the ability to pass property and assets to beneficiaries without the need of probate. 

Advanced Directive: An Advanced Directive can be a written or oral statement concerning medical decisions should you not be able to make them yourself.  It can also express your desire to make an anatomical donation after death.  In Florida there are three types of Advanced Directives: a Living Will; a Health Care Surrogate Designation and an Anatomical Donation. 

Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney is a legal document assigning authority from one individual to another. In the document, the grantor of the Power of Attorney (the “principal”) grants the right to act on the grantor’s behalf to an agent. The authority that is granted depends on the specific language, which can be very broad or may limit it to certain specific acts.  A Power of Attorney may be used to give another the right to sell a car, allow another to access bank accounts, sign a contract, make health care decisions, and the ability to create trusts and make gifts. A power of attorney should be drafted by a lawyer, in order to meet the individual’s wishes and goals. 

Guardianships: A guardianship is a legal proceeding in Florida where a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person. A guardian can be an individual or institution appointed by the court to care for an incapacitated person — called a “ward” or for the ward’s assets.

An incapacitated person is an adult who has been determined by the court to lack the capacity to manage at least some of his or her property or to meet at least some of the essential health and safety requirements of the person.  Any adult resident, related or unrelated, of Florida can serve as a guardian. Out of state relatives of the ward may also serve as guardian. Individuals who are professional or public guardians can also serve as guardian. The court gives consideration to the wishes expressed by the incapacitated person in a written declaration of preneed guardian or at the hearing.

Promissory Note: A promissory note is a binding agreement signed by a borrower who is agreeing to repay any monies borrowed, with interest. A promissory note will state both the lender’s and buyer’s rights and responsibilities. Promissory notes are used for many varying types of loans including but not limited to student loans, bank loans, commercial loans and real-estate loans. After a promissory note is signed, the lender must know how to collect on a promissory note.

When an attorney is needed:

  • A promissory note is a legally binding agreement. If the borrower is refusing to repay the promissory note, legal action may be required.

  • Sending a collection letter from an attorney will show serious intent. This may be enough of a threat to encourage the borrower to pay. If not, further legal action must be taken.

  • File a suit against the borrower.

  • For further information, please contact the law office of George N. Mantzidis today!

Pre-Marital Agreements:  A Pre-Marital Agreement is between two people who are anticipating marriage. In the agreement the individuals set out a plan on how their debts and assets will be dispersed in the event of death or divorce.

A Prenuptial Agreement can prevent creditors coming after you for your spouse’s debt, in the event of a divorce. If you should pass away, the agreement could keep your previously acquired assets separate from your current marital estate. If you have children from a previous marriage it will ensure that they receive part of your estate. For further information, please contact us by  completing the form on the right.