Phone: 727-397-5571

Common Questions About Florida Law

It is natural to have many questions and worries when faced with a legal issue or litigation. The experienced lawyers at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., ask many common legal questions and provide useful answers to help get you in making the best decisions for you and your family.

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  • When should I update my Florida estate plan?

    senior coupleIt's important to review your existing estate plan regularly. A good rule of thumb is to go over all of your documents every three-to-five years, although residents who have a large number of assets may wish to review their estate plans more often. However, you shouldn't wait to make changes to your documents if you've experienced a life event that could significantly impact your future wishes.

    Life Events That Can Affect Your Florida Estate Plan

    A person’s needs, family members, and possessions change considerably over the years. Florida law allows for the protection of children, spouses, businesses, and even pet care planning, but these protections will only remain in place as long as you keep the designations on your estate plan current.

    Major life events that can impact your estate plan include:

    • Marriage or divorce. While the law allows some direct inheritance of shared property for spouses, your spouse will not automatically become your beneficiary. If you want your spouse to inherit your property; have access to your life insurance and brokerage accounts; and make end-of-life decisions for you, you must specifically name him or her in your estate plan. In addition, any former spouses whom you no longer wish to inherit assets or make decisions on your behalf should be removed from these documents as soon as possible.
    • Birth and adoption. As your family grows, you may wish to expand your estate plan to accommodate new family members. Not only should you specifically name your children and grandchildren as heirs, but you should stipulate who will care for minor children if you die before the child turns 18. There are additional protections available if your child or grandchild has special needs; requires funds for education; or if you wish to provide for a child from a previous marriage.
    • Buying a home. Any significant acquisition of property, real estate, or other assets should be included in an estate plan. For most people, a home is the largest life purchase they will ever make, and an estate planning attorney can advise them on how to pass on the property to a surviving spouse or children after their death. You should also update an existing plan if you move to another state; purchase real estate in another state; or wish to minimize the amount of estate taxes your beneficiaries will owe.
    • Opening or closing a business. If you're a partner in a business concern, you can outline your wishes for succession; who should receive your holdings; and who should take over the day-to-day operations of the business. If the opening of the business involved borrowing a large amount of money, an attorney can prevent bill collectors from seeking debt repayment out of your personal holdings. If your business was sold or dissolved, an attorney can excise any professional beneficiaries from your will.
    • Changes in your health. If you've been diagnosed with a degenerative condition or another health concern that can affect your decision-making ability, carefully consider who should care for you if you become incapacitated. Your estate plan should include powers of attorney for finances, designations of health care surrogate, and a living will—for both you and your spouse. Updating your documents may also allow your family to protect your assets in the event you need long-term care from Medicaid.
    • Changing insurance policies. Update your estate plan any time you buy a new insurance policy or make a drastic change in your coverage. Beneficiaries designated in life insurance policies generally take precedence over those named in wills or trusts, but ensuring that all documents agree can save confusion and possible court costs later.

    Changes to the Law

    Many estate plans do not age very will due to changes in the law, so we generally say that you should review your estate plan with your attorney every 5 years. For instance, Florida drastically changed their durable power of attorney statute in 2011 and also changed the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate in 2015. While the Federal estate tax exemption is now very high (i.e., $5.49 million per person in 2017), your older estate planning documents may need drastic changes as well.

    Legal Trends May Change

    While most estate planning tries to save your family time and money by avoiding probate, other trends have recently emerged in estate planning. For instance, your estate plan can help protect your children's inheritance from their creditors, ex-spouses or even the high cost of long-term care.  If you want to protect your assets from the high cost of nursing home care, you may want to consider an irrevocable asset protection trust as well.

    We Can Help With Important Decisions

    Failure to update wills and trust documents can cause confusion and financial problems for your family members down the road. For example, if you've named a guardian to your children who has predeceased you, your surviving family members may be forced to choose a guardian amongst themselves.

    Reviewing your estate plan at regular intervals helps ensure that your wishes are followed and that your beneficiaries receive proper care after your passing. We can review the designations in your will, trusts, and healthcare directives, and advise you of changes in state or federal inheritance laws to minimize your tax liability. Contact us today to discuss your future wishes with a member of our legal team.

     

  • Will I have to pay income taxes on my Florida Inheritance?

    If your loved one recently died, you may be concerned about probate, trust settlement and other issues. Among those includes tax issues - both estate taxes and income taxes. On income taxes, the receipt of an inheritance is not income to the beneficiary.  Our income tax system is based solely upon working for your income. An inheritance is not something that you worked for, so the receipt of an inheritance is not taxed to you as income. 

    One possible exception to this rule is the receipt of an IRA or an Annuity. Once monies are removed from an IRA or an annuity, there may be taxable consequences to the beneficiary as the assets have likely appreciated in value.

    The likely tax return that an heir should be concerned with is the estate tax, but an estate tax only applies if the decedent's estate is worth more than $11.20 million (2018).  Most people do not need to worry about this as most estates, by far, are below level.

    If you want to learn more about probate and the probate process, feel free to download our Free Guide to Navigating the Florida Probate Process.

  • How can I avoid probate court proceedings in Florida?

    probate documentUnder Florida law, certain assets must go through probate court proceedings after an individual’s death. This is a way to keep track of all of the deceased person’s assets; pay any outstanding debts or taxes; and ensure that property is legally transferred to beneficiaries. The biggest drawbacks of the probate process are that it can take a long time for the beneficiaries to gain possession of assets due to a fairly cumbersome court process.

     

    Some Assets Do Not Go Through Probate in Florida

    It is our general opinion that good estate planning generally tries to avoid probate, although there are worse things than actually having assets go through probate.  In our opinion, what is much worse than probate is having assets go to the wrong people or having heirs fight over assets upon your death. Compared to probate, having these two things happen can be much worse than the probate process!

    In order to know what assets go through probate, you need to look to how each asset is held:

    • Probate Assets. These are assets in the decedent's own, individual name.  These assets are distributed according to the decedent's will if they had one, and if not, then according to the laws of intestacy (i.e., the decedent's family) if no will existed.
    • Joint tenancy property. Property that is owned jointly by the deceased and someone else may be passed directly to the surviving owner under a law called the right of survivorship. This can be a house that is owned by a couple, or a joint bank account with two named owners. In order to avoid probate, the survivor must have his or her name listed on the joint tenancy property and no other beneficiaries are on the title.
      • Should you add your children to your property?  Generally, the answer is a NO! Adding children as co-owners of your property is frequently a terrible idea.  Before you add a child to your assets, including your home, speak with your estate planning attorney first.
    • Beneficiary-designated accounts. Florida law allows residents to add a payable-on-death designation to checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, certificates of deposit, and life insurance policies. As long as the deceased person has designated a beneficiary, the money in the account may be transferred to the named person without probate. Florida also allows transfer-on-death designations on stocks and bonds, allowing beneficiaries to directly inherit brokerage accounts.
      • Should I do this on all of my assets? Generally, this can be a mixed bag. With all of the assets jointly held, who is in charge of the funeral expenses? Who is in charge of the decedent's taxes? If nothing goes through probate and all of the assets are jointly held, no one is in charge, and this may create huge problems!
    • Living trusts. In Florida, assets that are held in a living trust may pass to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings. These trusts must be created before your death, and all assets—including real estate, antiques, vehicles, and so on—must be transferred into the trust under the terms of the trust document. You'll remain trustee until your death, at which time your named successor will be control the assets in the trust.
    • Enhanced Life Estate Deeds. Florida is one of the few states that allow enhanced life estate deeds, sometimes referred to as "Lady Bird deeds."  These deeds allow residents to preserve their eligibility for Medicaid during their lifetimes while keeping valuable assets in the family. After death, the real property named in a Lady Bird deed pass automatically to beneficiaries without probate—meaning that assets cannot be taken by the state to recoup any Medicaid benefits used by the decedent.
      • We use enhanced life estate deeds for simple estate matters and living trusts for more complicated matters. We will discuss the difference with you, of course.

    Some estates won't need to go through formal probate at all. If a deceased person doesn't leave behind any real estate, and his or her total assets don't exceed funeral expenses and other end-of-life costs, then probate isn't required. If a person leaves behind few assets, beneficiaries may be able to go through a shortened version of probate known as summary administration. If the holdings of the estate aren't eligible for either of these simpler method of administration, beneficiaries must go through formal probate.  The key here is seeing a good probate attorney to direct you when the time comes.

    Let Us Help With Your Planning

    The best way to protect your holdings and provide for your family members is to create a Florida estate plan tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to speak to a member of our legal team about your ideas for the future.

     

  • Do I need an attorney to help settle my mother/father's trust?

    People create revocable living trusts in Florida in order to avoid the (mostly) cumbersome probate process. But in avoiding probate, does this mean that the successor Trustee avoids all attorneys? The answer depends on a number of factors.  The reality is that "settling" a trust may not be as easy as you may think, but it may not be that difficult either.

    One of the first questions on whether an attorney is ended to settle a trust is how complicated are things?

    • Are there many beneficiaries?
    • Are there a lot of assets?
    • Is a charity a beneficiary?
    • Did the decedent die with creditors?
    • Are there disgruntled (or potentially disgruntled) heirs?
    • What is the trustee's capacity to handle financial and legal matters?

    These are some of the most important questions on the need for the successor trustee to hire an attorney.  Basically, the more complicated matters are, the greater likelihood that the trustee should hire counsel to help them settle a trust.  One of the most important reasons is that the trustee has likely never done this before, and they do not know what they do not know. The trustee, importantly, is a fiduciary with a great deal of legal responsibility. The trustee's duties include, but are not limited to:

    • Paying the decedent's creditors
    • Paying/filing the decedent's last tax return
    • Depositing the will with the probate court
    • Filing a notice of trust with the local court
    • Providing an accounting to all beneficiaries
    • Acting as an impartial person, acting on in the trust's benefit
    • Acting as a reasonably prudent person would in finalizing matters

    In simple situations with a family that all gets along, settling a trust is not necessarily difficult for those who are capable of making sound financial decisions. If this is going to be too difficult for a family member or if the successor trustee is receiving lots of grief from other trust beneficiaries, it would be advisable to hire an attorney. The attorney would be paid from the trust estate, importantly, as this assists the successor trustee.

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  • When am I able to act as the executor for the estate?

    When someone dies in Florida, we often get phone calls regarding their loved one's bank or financial accounts. Typically, the family is at the decedent's bank and the bank is telling them that they need to become the executor (also known as personal representative). The family may even have the last will and testament, but what are the next steps?

    One important aspect of the Florida probate process is the estate and the ability act for and bind the estate. First, the probate estate extends only to assets in the decedent's own, individual name.  These assets are distributed according to the decedent's last will and testament. If the decedent did not have a last will and testament, his or her estate is distributed to the decedent's family in accordance with Florida's law of intestacy.

    Next, the last will and testament only nominates the personal representative (a/k/a the "executor").  The personal representative is only able to act upon the estate assets once appointed by the probate court. To confirm, the nominated personal representative is only able to act after petition and appointment by the probate court. This means that one of the first steps to the probate process is finding and hiring the right probate attorney. Once appointed by the probate court, the personal representative is issued "letters of administration" which will now enable him or her to act on the estate's behalf.

    The process of having someone appointed as the personal representative by the probate court typically takes 2-3 weeks in Pinellas County. The attorney will generally need the following information in order to prepare the court petition:

    • Original Last Will and Testament
    • Original Death Certificate (short form)
    • Address of all heirs
    • General list of assets that needs to be probated

    Once this information is gathered, the probate attorney can move forward with a Petition for Administration, which will admit the will to probate and allow the personal representative to act.

    If you are dealing with the recent death of a loved one, you may want to read a copy of our free book, Navigating the Florida Probate Process.

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  • Will my loved one get good care in the nursing home when on Medicaid?

    We know that many people end up on Medicaid in the nursing home due to the high cost of nursing home care, which can exceed $9,000 per month. But will Medicaid affect your loved one's care?

    First, it is illegal for a nursing home or other care provider to discriminate against a patient due to payor source. This means that the nursing home care providers do not care if your loved one is there through Medicaid or through private pay. I once had a nursing home owner tell me that they preferred Medicaid as a payor source over people privately paying as they knew Medicaid would pay them while the private payers would not always be as forthcoming with the funds. 

    Next, whether a nursing home accepts Medicaid does not dictate whether it is a good or bad facility. There are 83 nursing homes in Pinellas County, for instance, and all 83 nursing homes accept Medicaid.

    Also, Medicaid also will not dictate where your loved one will receive care. This means that you can pick any nursing home you want and the state of Florida does not care.  Each facility, however, may have a limit as to the number of Medicaid beds, so depending upon the time of year, there may be a wait list for Medicaid beds.

    The truth about Medicaid and Medicaid planning in Florida is that protecting assets with an elder law attorney will not affect your loved one's care, although it may affect placement issues at certain times.

    One final piece to this puzzle is that getting good care in any nursing home or assisted living facility is not easy. Care will vary based upon the nursing home staff, doctors, CNAs, administration, corporate governance and more.  This is why we have a care coordinator on staff as part of our life care planning practice. Our care coordinator's job is to help you and your loved one get good care in the right facility. Our care coordinator has been a social worker in local nursing homes for over 30 years and she knows what good care looks like. With our law firm, you will not need to worry about good care for your loved one, or the stress of being an advocate, all alone in the medical system, without help.

    If you want to learn more about our Medicaid and life care planning practice, please feel free to attend one of our free educational seminars at our office.

  • Can I name multiple people as my power of attorney?

    Yes, you can name more than one person on your durable power of attorney, but we generally advise against it under most circumstances.

    First, there is no legal reason why you cannot name more than one person as your power of attorney - you can name 10 people if you want. The real question is should you name more than one person? The answer is no, unless you have a specific reason. The reason why we do not want more than one is in the event of a conflict.  With multiple decisionmakers, there is always the ability for people to conflict on decisions. Conflicts may mean paralysis as each decisionmaker can overrule the other.  Who is in charge with multiple powers of attorney if a conflict occurs? Answer: no one! We prefer to name one person at a time in descending order - i.e., start at your spouse and move to children in order of priority.

    There is, however, a great exception to this rule: when you have an aging couple, it may be best to name your spouse and a responsible child as attorneys-in-fact. This will help in the event either parent is incapacitated and needs help through the durable power of attorney. An example is as follows:

    Mom and dad are age 90 and having a few health issues and memory problems.  They are both acting independently and are in charge of all decisionmaking.  Due, however to their advanced age, they name their trusted and responsible son as co-power of attorney. We also granted independent signature powers so they can act alone. Our planning in this situation is far preferable to the parents just naming each other because of a possible downturn at or around the same time.  This prevents crisis situations and stress for the family, to say the least.

    We hope this post has been helpful!  Please let us know if you have any further questions or want to attend one of our free estate planning or elder law seminars.

     

  • How can Medicaid help pay for long-term care?

    Medicaid is the federal program to assist the needy cope with extraordinary health care costs, such as long-term care. Health care providers all across the country give a wide range of services with Medicaid dollars. The Medicaid system is funded from both state and federal dollars. Florida runs the Medicaid program under guidelines provided by the Federal government as administered through the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), where application is made for any benefits. Florida Medicaid helps the elderly, such as those that help paying for care in the nursing home, assisted living or for in-home care.

    Medicaid has a good number of rules for applying if your assets are above the bare minimum.  Here is our webpage on the Medicaid Income and Asset Guidelines that discusses more about the assets.

    One important aspect to Medicaid is that the elder is not allowed to give away assets within 5 years of a Medicaid application.  This is commonly known as the Medicaid "lookback" period.  If money was given away, a transfer penalty was created. Here is our guide to calculating the Medicaid transfer penalty.  

    There are a lot of rules for accessing Medicaid, to say the least, and there is no such thing as an easy Medicaid application, even when the applicant's assets are at or below the asset limit.  This is why elder law attorneys exist - to help our clients get good care while protecting the assets for their benefit.  We have done hundreds of Medicaid applications for our clients over the many years of our practice.  If you or your loved one is in the nursing home or assisted living, it is never too late to protect the assets. Also, if you do good planning, their is no Medicaid lien to consider.

    If you want to learn more about Medicaid and asset protection planning, you are welcome to attend one of our free monthly educational seminars!

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  • How are Jointly Held Assets Counted for Medicaid Purposes in Florida?

    When someone it looking to apply for Medicaid for a loved one, one of the inevitable questions we get usually sounds something like this:

    "I am a joint owner on my mother's bank accounts.  Are half of the accounts mine for Medicaid purposes?"

    The short answer here is that it is only an asset if the other account owner contributed monies to the account(s).  The question here is rooted in ownership of the bank account. It is very common for an elder, rightly or wrongly, to add a child as co-owner of their bank accounts in the event they have a decline in health and need someone to pay their bills. 

    For Medicaid purposes, a joint owner on a bank account is not considered a partial owner for Medicaid purposes. The law presumes that if the Medicaid applicant is on the financial account, they are a 100% owner. Of course, this is usually true as the account is usually the elder's asset and the child was added for convenience purposes. If, however, the child could show that some or all of the money was the Medicaid applicants, then the asset can be excluded. 

    If the money is the elder's you cannot give it away in order to protect the funds.  Please see this page on the Medicaid Transfer Penalty. Of course, there are legal ways to protect assets in the event your elder is in the nursing home. We have a great deal more information on Medicaid spend down planning in Florida.

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  • What should I do first upon my loved one's death?

    While you may already be doing this, you should take care of important family matters such as planning the funeral, visitation, obituary, family communications and more. This is always the most important priority.

    You may also be dealing with the funeral home. At this time you will want them to help you obtain original death certificates for your loved one. We typically tell families to get four original short form death certificates and four original long form certificates. The short form death certificates do not have the cause of death – the long form death certificates are generally used with life insurance policies. If the assets are very simple or the estate very small, you may not need this many death certificates.

    It generally takes about 10 days to get the death certificates from the funeral home. Typically, the original death certificate is necessary to get legal and financial matters started.

    After you have the funeral and have obtained the death certificates, you can start with the financial aspects such as claiming life insurance policies, annuities, trust settlement and probate, when necessary.  

    If you want to learn more about probate, what probate is, and other legal aspects, you may want to download a free copy of Navigating the Florida Probate Process, our book written by attorney D. "Rep" DeLoach, III.

  • How Much Do We Charge For Revocable Living Trusts?

    In creating your estate plan, we often look at whether you have a trust based estate plan or a will based estate plan. Part of whether you should have a trust based estate plan is how much money you should spend on an estate plan at this point in your life. The older you get the more likely you are to die and the more useful a trust based estate plan would be beneficial to your family. In our initial consultation, we will review your assets, your goals and your options. If a trust based plan works for you, we will quote you a fixed fee for our services. Importantly, our trust planning fees start as follows:

    • Single person trust planning: $2,495
    • Married couple trust planning: $2,995

    These basic estate plans include the following documents:

    • Last will and testament (a/k/a "pour over" wills)
    • Durable power of attorney (with Medicaid planning powers, when applicable)
    • Designation of healthcare surrogate
    • Living will and review of end of life wishes
    • Deed of property to trust
    • Trust binder for future reference
    • Scan of documents for future reference
    • Trust Transfer Guidelines (directions on trust funding)
    • Guide to Family Members upon Incapacity or Death

    This is the base price for our trust planning, and we have other options based upon your desires and other complexities. The reality is that most people who create revocable living trusts do not actually "fund" their trusts. We have price planning options for us assisting with your trust funding, for protecting your children's inheritance from angry in-laws, creditors and Medicaid, and more. 

    There are no hidden costs and you will know our fee before we proceed. We do not charge by the hour, and we do not charge by the document.  We will also not try to sell you annuities or other financial products, as will the “traveling trust salesmen” that come through our community.

    More Cost Upfront, Less Cost in the Long Run

    We charge a fair price for the value of the services we provide: our counseling, knowledge, continuing training and the unique process we use to assist you to solve your problems and address your concerns. Our initial fees may be a little higher than other attorneys in our community who charge for mere document preparation.  However, mere document preparation is certainly not estate planningEstate planning is a thoughtful process in which, through counseling and informed choices, we co-create a plan with you that addresses your problems and concerns to your satisfaction, and make sure you transfer your assets to your trust.   

    Elder Law and Estate Planning Together

    Not all estate planning attorneys are created equal. The truth is that many estate planning attorneys know next to nothing about elder law, Medicaid planningVA benefits planning and Special Needs Trusts. We see inadequate trusts, durable powers of attorney and advanced directives all the time that are not even close to the level of documents we create. As we do Medicaid and asset protection planning, we know all the best ways to create your estate plan to make sure your assets do not disappear to the nursing home. We also deal with end of life issues and health care advocacy, making our advanced directives better and more concise. We constantly train and attend continuing education to not just stay on top of the legal trends but to actually create them for other attorneys.

    Integration of Estate Planning with Your Assets

    The further reality of estate planning is that most people to not actually "fund" their estate plans. This means that many people do not transfer their assets to their trusts and do not change the beneficiaries to their life insurance/IRA/401k/annuities. Your estate planning documents and your assets must work together, and our experience is that many attorneys do not help their clients in this area, where we do.

    We look forward to sitting down with you, to discussing your goals and working together to not just create good estate planning documents, but to creating a great estate plan.

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  • My Mother/Father Died and They Had a Living Trust. Will I Need an EIN from the IRS?

    When a loved one dies with a revocable living trust, we receive this question all the time.

    During your loved one's lifetime, their living trust was most likely a "grantor" trust, meaning the trust operated under their own Social Security number. This made things simple and easy for your loved one. But upon the grantor's death, his or her Social Security number cannot be used to manage the trust. The successor Trustee of the trust will need to get an EIN/TIN from the IRS in order to claim the trust's assets and generally manage the trust. 

    Once you receive an EIN from the IRS, the successor Trustee will be able to gather the trust's assets from the bank and other financial institutions. Without an EIN, the financial institutions will most likely not allow any movement of the assets. 

    In settling the trust, the trust may need to file a tax return upon/before final distribution on all assets. A trust needs to file a tax return if it has more than $600 in income during a taxable year.  This means that simple trusts with outright distributions to beneficiaries will need an EIN, but may not need to file a tax return. Ultimately, we generally have our successor trustee clients work with a trusted CPA to confirm the tax issues.

    If you are the successor trustee of a trust, you may need legal help to confirm your duties as trustee.  If so, we have helped trustees settle many trusts, helping make sure our clients follow their legal duties and do not make mistakes in the process.

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  • Can My Estate Plan Protect My Children in the Event of Divorce?

    Many estate plans leave the decedent's assets outright to their children, typically with the focus on avoiding the Florida probate process.  But when you leave your assets to your children, will their spouse be able to take it away in the event of a divorce?  The short answer is maybe. Each state is different in this, but when assets are inherited by a child, the assets typically do not become part of the marital estate.  But this does not mean that your child is protected.  The best way to plan for your children’s inheritance is to set up a Personal Asset Trust® (a “PAT”) which allows your heir(s) to use and benefit from the Trust’s assets for their lifetime(s). This type of trust is the best of all worlds: the heirs can use the trust funds as needed and desired, but the money is protected and cannot be taken away in the event of a divorce, a lawsuit, or bankruptcy, or if they ever had to be in the nursing home.

    The Personal Asset Trust®, a relatively new legal concept, is based upon over 100 years of asset protection law. The Personal Asset Trust® is so unique that only a small number of attorneys throughout the country offer it—those who have taken the time to study and integrate it into their practices, like our law firm. A Personal Asset Trust® includes the following provisions:

    • Heirs manage the trust assets during their lifetimes; i.e., they serve as trustees of their own trusts—this simplifies trust administration
    • Heirs are free to decide the use of the money, without outside intervention or control;  Monies held within the trust are generally exempt from creditor claims;
    • Monies held within the trust are not considered “marital assets,” and are not subject to divorce claims or consideration during divorce proceedings;
    • Assets in a Personal Asset Account are not considered “countable” in calculating the asset limitation for Medicaid nursing home eligibility. 
    • Heirs are able to make necessary changes to the Personal Asset Trust® to accommodate health, financial, or marital status changes.
    • We typically create a Personal Asset Trust in your own Revocable Living Trust.

    Thus, the Personal Asset Trust® protects your (and your heirs’) assets from “outsiders,” provides your heirs with optimal freedom of use, and offers administrative flexibility for your direct heirs and future generations.

    Our law firm is one of the few in the Pinellas County area that regularly uses the PAT in their estate planning documents.  If you want to protect your children the best way possible, we would be glad to meet with your to discuss your estate plan.

    If you want to help make sure your children are protected upon your death so you are not making your ex-in-law wealthy, you will want to use our law firm to help you.

  • How is DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis Different From Other Estate Planning Attorneys?

    It is not easy finding the right estate planning or elder law attorney. We know this because we see people come in with terrible estate plans, inadequate documentation and more.  The reality is that many attorneys, in our opinion, are mere "document preparers." Document preparers may (or may not) create good estate planning documents but they frequently do not help their clients "fund" their estate plans. Estate planning document do not work in a vacuum, meaning that your wishes may not be followed upon your death or incapacity. Our goal is to not just prepare sound documents but also make sure your assets work in conjuction with your planning. 

    Advantages of Working with DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. :

    FREE review of your goals, family and assets to make sure our plans all work together upon your death or incapacity.

    FREE telephone support in between office visits. If you have simple questions or concerns, your estate planning fee includes free questions as you are now a client of our firm. We want to be your attorney and help you in any way reasonably possible.

    FREE subscription to our newsletter. Stay on top of the law, legal changes and other important practice developments that could affect you and your family.

    FREE educational seminars for you and your children. We hold periodic seminars that may interest you, your friends and family, discussing various elder and estate planning topics. The best estate plan is the plan that is up to date and current with the law – stay on top of legal changes with our office.

    FREE consultation with your heirs in the event of your death. Most family members have never been involved with the death of a loved one and the family has no idea where to go or what to do. Your estate planning fee includes our meeting with your family upon your death, reviewing the options, and discussing the next steps. Your children will feel better knowing that their parents’ attorney will be there for them as well in a difficult time.

    FREE meeting with your children in the event you are experiencing advanced health problems. If you become sick and need long-term care, or your family becomes worried that you are not safe at home, we will provide your family with a free office conference in order to protect your assets and discuss how to get you the best care possible.

    FREE scan of your estate planning documents for future use and reference. Having your documents scanned and ready for you and your family’s review can be invaluable at the right time.

    FREE binder to hold all of your estate planning documents and other important information in an orderly manner.

    Please call us today to schedule an initial consultation to get started.

     

  • How Can an Attorney Help My Elder Get Good Health Care?

    Helping your elderly loved one can be very, very difficult. When your loved one is no longer able to stay at home safely, your loved one enters the long-term care "maze."  You, as the caregiver, are forced to navigate this maze, often alone. 

    As part of the long-term care maze, you are going through three general areas with your loved one:

    • Legal Issues: Wills, powers of attorney, estate plans and more.
    • Financial Issues: This generally deals with Medicaid and Medicaid planning.
    • Healthcare Issues: This is trying to find good care for your loved one. Here, may be dealing with nursing home placement, care concerns, doctors, rehabilitation, assisted living and much, much more.

    Our goal in our life care planning practice is to not just placed your loved on Medicaid, but to help you navigate the long-term care maze. We will help you get good care for your loved one with our elder care coordinator. Our care coordinator will make your elder's life better by giving them good care while helping the primary caregiver make the right decisions.

    The reality is that you generally would not think about going to an attorney to get good health care, but that is what a life care planning attorney does. We provide not just legal and financial advocacy, but health care advocacy as well!

    IF you are having difficulties making the right decisions for your loved ones, which almost everyone does, we will be glad to help you protect their assets, help make sure their legal issues are taken care of, and making sure your loved one gets good health care.