Whether you recently lost a loved one or you wish to create estate planning documents of your own, you need to hire a knowledgeable Pensacola will and probate lawyer who can help ensure you do everything properly and in accordance with the law. Contact The Law Office of James M. Burns today to learn more about estate planning in Florida and how our competent legal team can guide you through each step of the estate planning process.
Pensacola Will and Probate Lawyer | Providing the Guidance You Need for Estate and Probate Issues
When a family member dies or becomes incapacitated, legal issues arise that must be handled appropriately. During such a difficult time, it is important to have a probate attorney who has the necessary legal knowledge and personal compassion to help you navigate a painful time.
Pensacola will and probate lawyer James M. Burns of The Law Office of James M. Burns has gently and thoughtfully guided numerous families in northwest Florida and southwest Alabama through probate and estate administration. He can also assist you to create an estate plan that addresses your family’s unique needs.
Helping You Properly Distribute Assets
Are you seeking a Florida probate attorney to handle the estate administration details following the death of a family member or dear friend? With Mr. Burns as your probate lawyer, you have the comfort of knowing that you are receiving legal counsel and representation from someone who has had years of successful experience in:
- Formal estate administration
- Creation of wills and other estate documents
- Summary administration proceedings
- Trust creation and administration
Mr. Burns has the knowledge to guide you through each step and ensure that your rights and assets are protected at every juncture.
Estate Planning FAQ
Why Do I Need A Will?
Every adult should have a last will and testament to ensure that their assets go to the beneficiaries they prefer in the event of unexpected death. A will can also prevent or minimize probate, which makes the process much easier on your surviving loved ones.
What Happens If Someone Dies Without A Will?
When someone dies intestate, or without a valid will, in Florida, the court takes control of their estate and distributes the assets according to the state’s intestacy succession laws.
What Are The Benefits Of Establishing A Trust?
Trusts are arrangements that allow one person to place money or property aside for a beneficiary. The assets in a trust are not subject to taxes and have more protection from creditors. You can also impose certain conditions on the distribution of assets in the trust.
What Is The Difference Between Summary And Formal Administration?
If an estate has a value of less than $75,000, then it can go through summary administration – a very simple form of estate administration that typically takes less time and money than formal administration. (Alabama refers to summary as “short administration” and formal administration as “long administration”). Complex estates must go through formal administration, which involves additional steps such as marshaling liquid assets and appointing a personal representative.
What Are The Duties Of A Personal Representative?
When someone dies, a personal representative – also called an executor – administers the decedent’s estate. This involves:
- Paying creditors
- Taking inventory of assets
- Taking a final accounting
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
If the decedent did not name a personal representative, then the court will appoint one.
The Importance Of Establishing A Will
Although there is some disagreement as to who first coined the phrase “nothing is certain but death and taxes,” one thing is certain: When a loved one dies, one of the most difficult aspects can be dealing with the debts, taxes, and distributions owed by the estate. That is why one of the most loving and considerate things that you can provide for your family is a will outlining exactly how you would like your estate to be disbursed at the time of your death.
The time following the death of a loved one is very difficult. State laws – not your personal preferences – determine how your estate is handled if you die without a will. A will can help your family avoid unnecessary difficulties once you are gone. If you do not have a will or have not updated your will in the past few years, contact an experienced Pensacola will and probate lawyer.
Helping Florida And Alabama Families Plan For The Future
Pensacola probate attorney James M. Burns will explain your options and guide you to decisions that meet the legal requirements of your home state. A will can help ensure that your wishes will be carried out after your death. Not only can you designate who is to receive assets from your estate, but you can also appoint someone you trust to be your personal representative to handle all of the details regarding your estate, including:
- Compiling your assets
- Paying off debts
- Paying necessary fees and taxes
- Distributing assets to your designated heirs and beneficiaries
It can be trying and difficult to face your own mortality, but with the empathetic and able assistance of attorney James M. Burns, planning your estate and creating your will can be a part of the legacy that you leave for your family.
The Importance Of Establishing Trusts
If you are seeking to establish a trust, it is important that your documents are handled by an experienced attorney. A misstep, oversight, or ambiguity in the language of your trust could give rise to disputes and other complications. With a skilled lawyer crafting your documents, you can rest assured your assets and your wishes are protected.
The Law Office of James M. Burns in Pensacola handles a broad range of estate planning matters, including the creation of trusts. Pensacola will and probate lawyer James M. Burns is a trusted legal ally for individuals and families throughout the Gulf Coast region.
Which Trusts Are Right For You?
Trusts perform a variety of asset-protection objectives. Some of the most common types of trusts include:
- Living trusts: This is a trust created during the grantor’s (the person establishing the trust) lifetime for both their own benefit and the benefit of their intended beneficiary.
- Testamentary trusts: These trusts are part of a will and only go into effect upon the death of the grantor.
- Revocable trusts: As the name suggests, the trust holder can change the terms of this type of trust whenever he or she wishes.
- Irrevocable trusts: This type of trust generally cannot be amended. Irrevocable trusts are often used to help beneficiaries maximize inheritances while avoiding unnecessary estate taxes.
- Charitable trusts: If you have philanthropic designs, a charitable trust can help you set aside wealth and assets for a charity whose work you wish to support.
- Special needs trusts: These trusts are designed to provide financial support for a person who is dependent upon public benefits. Without carefully planning how you support your loved one, you might accidentally render them ineligible for the benefits they rely upon.
After carefully reviewing your needs and goals, attorney James M. Burns can help you select the types of trusts that are right for you and your family.
The Formal Administration Process in Florida
When a loved one dies, his or her estate will be handled in probate court. In almost all cases, the court appoints a personal representative to administer the estate. The personal representative is responsible for administering the estate in accordance with all of the applicable laws.
State laws can be confusing and following the death of a loved one, you may need a probate lawyer. Pensacola probate attorney James M. Burns provides skilled and compassionate legal assistance to individuals and families in Florida and Alabama. Mr. Burns has helped hundreds of clients with a wide variety of probate and administration issues since 2000. Do not put off calling for skilled representation in the following situations:
- If you have been named as a personal representative for the estate of a loved one
- If you are concerned about your liability to the beneficiaries of an estate you are administering
- If someone else has been named the personal representative for an estate from which you believe you are entitled to assets
- If you desire guidance through a probate or administration process
Helping You Understand The Formal Administration Process
If an estate is under formal administration, the personal representative must obtain all information, records, and assets from financial institutions and other sources and distribute them to the appropriate beneficiaries. This collection process can be complicated and can lead to legal disputes and liabilities if not performed correctly.
Mr. Burns will deal with the financial institutions involved and handle all of the necessary paperwork to close the probate estate once all creditors have been paid and all beneficiaries have received their assets. This allows the personal representative and those who had any claim to the estate to rest assured that everything has been handled according to state law, that all debts and taxes have been properly paid, and that all loose ends have been tied up prior to the closing of the case.
Summary Administration in Florida
If a loved one passes away and his or her estate contains nonexempt assets totaling $75,000 or less, the estate may be handled by summary administration. Additionally, a summary administration process may be used if it has been two years since the deceased passed away.
Although a probate case handled by summary administration may take less time and involve fewer legal hoops to jump through, not every estate is eligible for summary administration. Even banks and other financial institutions make mistakes. This is why it is important to consult an experienced attorney following a death.
Let Pensacola will and probate lawyer James M. Burns review your situation and help you determine what would be in your best interests and the best interests of your family. In many cases, other assets exist that may not have been totaled at the time the decision to refer the case for summary administration was made. This can lead to difficulties in making sure that all assets are distributed from the estate fairly and in the manner that the deceased would have desired.
Protect Your Family’s Future, Today
Life is unpredictable. One of the best ways to ensure that your family has financial security after your death is to create an estate plan. By establishing a will and/or trust today, you can ensure that your assets go to the beneficiaries you intend. Mr. Burns will work with you hands-on to create custom documents that suit you and your family’s needs.
Contact a Pensacola Pensacola Will and Probate Lawyer
Many former clients refer their friends and family to The Law Office of James M. Burns in Pensacola. When you need experience you can trust, you can rely on Mr. Burns. Call 850-930-3018 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our experienced and dedicated legal team.