PERHAPS MORE THAN any other legal area, estate planning involves intensely personal issues for our clients. Individuals are required to plan for their death or deal with the loss of a loved one which is never easy. At Meyer Law Firm, we work to provide the highest caliber of legal services combined with personal attention and compassion. We begin by understanding your personal and financial goals and wishes, and then design a plan that is individualized. Laws may change. Your family and financial situation may also change. Meyer Law Firm assists you to adapt your estate plan to life’s changes.

Are you not sure if you need estate planning?  Without proper estate planning, your family could be subjected to unnecessary financial and emotional stress. It is important to ask yourself the following questions when debating about having an estate plan:

  • Will funds be readily available to my family if something were to happen to me?
  • Is my home being passed to my intended beneficiary?
  • Are my assets being passed according to my wishes?
  • Will my assets be reduced by unnecessary taxes or poor investment management?

If you are unsure about any of the answers to the above critical questions, it is important that you speak with an estate planning attorney to make sure you have a plan that legally meets your wishes.

Simple Estate Planning

Every estate plan must begin with a solid foundation. In most circumstances, this is a will or a trust that addresses distribution of your assets and care for dependents.

Durable Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives are also critical since they designate who you wish to handle your financial and health care matters in the event that you are unable to handle them yourself.

Advanced Estate Planning

Many individuals and families require more advanced estate planning techniques. At Meyer Law Firm, we have the experience to handle your complex needs. We utilize asset preservation and tax-minimizing techniques, such as Marital Deduction and Credit Shelter Trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT), Grantor-Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATS), Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, or Defective Grantor Trusts.

Taxes and Estate Planning

At Meyer Law Firm, we understand that you have worked hard to earn your wealth and we are extremely conscious of the tax implications in planning your estate. We will help you evaluate various tools to minimize your estate taxation. These tools may include the creation of a trust to minimize taxes, protect assets, or manage your future financial needs. We can also discuss asset protection strategies with you such as Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trusts, Asset Protection Trusts, or Special Need Trusts. Meyer Law Firm will develop a customized plan so that you will be able to maximize the wealth and protection you pass on to your loved ones.

Estate Tax Exemption

Although we do not have clear and definite information on what our government will do when the current Estate Tax Exemption law expires at the end of 2012, it is important to consider your options now. Estates that presently exceed five million dollars are subject to costly federal estate taxes. Without proper estate planning, your estate may be subject to hundreds of thousands — even millions — of dollars in taxes.

Learn More About Estate Planning

Below are questions our new clients ask most frequently about estate planning. Since the legal world has many variables which make it difficult to answer most questions with a brief paragraph, we recommend that you use these answers as informational only and seek legal advice to ensure that your specific case is handled to meet all legal requirements. We’ve also provided links to resource articles that can help you make informed decisions.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a plan for managing and protecting your assets while you are alive and distributing your assets at your death. An estate includes all the assets you own of any value including real estate, business interests, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, IRAs, and 401Ks. Your estate also includes your personal property such as jewelry. And, the assets addressed in estate planning may be owned by you alone or jointly with others.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A revocable living trust is the foundation of an estate plan to avoid probate and protect you if you become incapacitated. In a revocable living trust, you may name yourself as both trustee and beneficiary during your lifetime. You will transfer most of your assets to the trust (referred to as “funding a trust”) before you die so that at your death, your assets are efficiently transferred as you directed, avoiding probate expenses that might be required if a will were your primary estate planning tool.

What is a Trustee?

You can designate a person, called a trustee, to manage the assets that go into the trust you create, pay the trust’s expenses, collect trust income, and make distributions to beneficiaries.

What is funding a trust and why is it so important?

Funding a trust involves titling your assets in the name of your trust while you are living rather than having them titled under your individual name.

The reason funding is so critical is that any of your assets not funded correctly will go through probate, which can be expensive and time consuming. Additionally, your appointed trustee will not be able to manage any assets left outside of your trust. This can especially result in issues for your trustee if the assets you requested they manage were for you or a loved one’s care.

What is asset protection?

Asset protection is not about hiding your assets. Rather, it is about protecting your assets from potential creditors. Meyer Law Firm will utilize tools such as trusts or other entities designed to protect your assets.

What is Gifting?

Gifting can be an important component of your estate plan. To avoid or reduce estate taxes, Meyer Law Firm may suggest that you reduce the size of your estate. You generally may give any individual up to $13,000 per year without income or gift tax consequences. And, if you make a gift to a charity you wish to support, you may be able to claim an income tax deduction on your tax returns.

Below is additional information on estate planning:

Ten Questions to Ask An Estate Planning Attorney (PDF)

Common Estate Planning Mistakes (PDF)

Do You Have a Will? (The Florida Bar) (PDF)

The Revocable Trust in Florida (The Florida Bar) (PDF)


AARP Articles

Below are articles AARP offers on estate planning. For more visit the AARP website.

A To-Do List for Estate Planning 
Get ready for possible changes in 2013.
(John F. Wasik, AARP Bulletin, October 19, 2011)

Where There’s a Will…
There’s a way to contest it. But the cost can be high, and not just in money.
(Nancy Mann Jackson, AARPBulletin, August 17, 2011)

10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will 
Who inherits the good silver is just the beginning.
(Brett Widness, Updated May 2012)

Choose the Right Executor or Trustee
5 tips for a decision that can make or break estate planning.
(G.M. Filisko, April 22, 2011)

4 Costly Estate-Planning Blunders
Think your documents are bullet-proof? Check again to avoid these common mistakes.
(G.M. Filisko, Updated March 2011)

10 Things You Should Know About Living Trusts
Many boomers are choosing a trust over a will, but the price can be steep.
(William J. Lynott, AARP Bulletin, September 15, 2010)

Take Charge of Your Future. Legal Documents You Need Now!
(AARP Education & Outreach, October 2010)

Who Inherits the Cottage by the Lake?
To stop siblings from squabbling, put a plan in writing.
(Darci Smith, AARP Bulletin, June 16, 2010)