Estate Planning

Estate planning is an all-encompassing process which helps you put order into your life and prepare for any scenario which can unfold in the future, including your incapacitation and death.

Estate planning guarantees your assets will be managed effectively and pass to your chosen inheritors should you pass away. Additionally, estate planning significantly reduce the associated expenses, taxes and fees.

When properly drafted, your estate plan can protect your property from external claims during your lifetime and after they pass to your beneficiaries.

Finally, you can leave instructions about handling your medical care and designate a responsible person who will make decision in your name if you’re unconsious or unable to act for yourself.

Daily & Toups is a dedicated estate planning and elder law firm. We can help you create and legalize your estate plan. Contact us for a no obligation chat !

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What is estate planning?

And how it can help you save money and time for your loved ones

An estate plan is a comprehensive set of documents which creates contingencies for various types of scenarios including your incapacitation or death. An estate plan allows you to leave specific instructions about handling different situations.

This includes:

  • Determining who will make health care and financial decisions for you if you’re incapacitated. And what powers they will have.
  • Determining how your assets will be distributed and in what manner.
  • Protecting your assets both during your lifetime and for your beneficiaries.
  • Reducing the cost, headache, and time involved in having your assets transferred to your beneficiaries.

If you pass away without an estate plan or a will, state laws will distribute your assets according to their own statutes. This can result in family members receiving assets when you never intended for those assets to receive assets. Also, your family will need to go through a complicated, expensive, and long process called probate.

If you want to leave the house to your granddaughter, you can simply list her as the sole beneficiary in your will. However, a will still needs to go through a formal court procedure called probate and your granddaughter will have to pay a substantial amount of money to an attorney to receive the house. Estate planning attorneys in Florida make more money off of probate than anything else.

A good estate plan makes use of legal tools, like trusts, to avoid unnecessary costs and transfer your assets quickly and efficiently to your beneficiaries without involving the courts.

It can literally save your life!

You can leave detailed instructions in your estate plan

If you’re incapacitated and need intensive medical care, a well drafted estate plan will give your health care surrogate all of the powers and guidance they need to make the best health care decisions on your behalf.

Similarly, if you’re unable to take care of your children or run your company, a well drafted estate plan will allow your agent to step into your shoes and take care of your children or your company.

When estate planning is done well, it protects you, your family, and your assets. An estate plan involves several equally important areas:

Areas of estate planning

When estate planning is done well, it protects you, your family, and your assets. An estate plan involves several equally important areas:

Protecting assets during your lifetime

Appointing proper fiduciaries

Protecting assets for your beneficiaries

Protecting you during your lifetime if you are incapacitated

Distributing assets to your beneficiaries in an efficient and cost-effective manner

In the sections below, you’ll find information and resources about each one.

Protecting assets during your lifetime

Asset preservation is critical for your long term comfort and peace of mind. Life unfolds unpredictably and anyone can end up sitting on the losing side of a lawsuit or a creditor’s claim.

These events can wreak havoc on your financial stability and even see you homeless.

Asset preservation focuses on creating legal barriers between you and your creditors, potentially preventing them from seizing your assets.

This process could involve creating trusts or using other legal tools to secure your property.

Many people do not realize that Florida is one of the best states in the country for asset protection. When clients move to Florida from out of state, one of the first things we do is sit down and make sure that they are taking the full advantage of Florida legislation to preserve their assets.

Appointing proper agents for your estate planning documents

One of the most important decisions when creating an estate plan is who you appoint to serve as your agent. Agents are those people that you choose to serve as your Personal Representative/Executor, Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, or Trustee.

These people will step into your shoes and act on your behalf if you are incapable of managing your own affairs, are incapacitated, or are deceased. They will make important, potentially life changing decisions regarding your health care, your children, your business, your finances and any of your other affairs.

Agents can be your family members, close friends, or professionals such as attorneys, bankers, or corporate institutions.

But whoever you name as your agent needs to be someone who you trust and who has the skills necessary to carry out your wishes. Appointing the wrong agent can ruin an otherwise bulletproof estate plan.

Protecting assets for your beneficiaries

A well-drafted estate plan will protect your assets for your beneficiaries.

If you pass and your assets are distributed outright through a poorly drafted estate plan or through beneficiary designation (e.g. a pay on death bank account), then those assets distributed outright to the beneficiary can be fair game to your beneficiaries’ creditors. These creditors can be from a current lawsuit, a divorced spouse, or a potential lawsuit stemming from financial debt, a car accident, or malpractice.
Proper trust planning for your beneficiaries can provide a legal barrier between the assets and any potential creditors. This barrier will protect the assets you pass to your beneficiaries by deterring creditors such as a divorce or lawsuit.

Protecting your assets during your lifetime and beyond as they pass down to your heirs is a key part of your estate plan. And your beneficiaries will thank you.

Protecting you during your lifetime if you are incapacitated

A well drafted estate plan will protect you during your lifetime if you are impaired or incapacitated.

Incapacity can happen to anyone at any age due to any number of accidents or injuries. You may be left unable to make important decisions about your life or health care or finances. Someone will need to step into your shoes and make decisions on your behalf regarding your health care and finances.

If there is no designated person, your friends or family will need to seek a guardianship from the court. This is a time-consuming and stressful court procedure that involves expensive attorney fees and court costs. The court may also appoint a guardian that you may not have wanted to serve.

It is important for anyone over the age of 18 to have a well-drafted Health Care Surrogate and Power of Attorneys. These documents when drafted properly will allow your agents to step into your shoes and make all of the decisions necessary to protect you.

Distributing assets to your beneficiaries in an efficient and cost-effective manner

Distributing assets after you pass should be both cost-effective and efficient.

Many clients either do not have a will or have a very basic will. In either case, should they pass, the assets they intend to pass down to their beneficiaries, including their home, will have to go through probate.

Probate is a court controlled process where the court formally transfers your assets to your beneficiaries. It’s very expensive, time-consuming, and a headache for both your beneficiaries and your attorney. The full procedure may extend for a full year and sometimes more depending on how busy the court is. Your beneficiaries will need to pay from your estate the court fees, attorney fees, and personal representative/executor fees. As a result, the value of your assets passing to your beneficiaries may be significantly reduced due to probate.

A well drafted estate plan avoids the probate process entirely. This allows your beneficiaries to avoid paying thousands in court fees, attorney fees, and personal representative/executor fees and allows your beneficiaries to quickly receive assets.

You don’t have to do it alone!

Daily & Toups are ready to help you create and notarize your estate plan. We’ve created hundreds of bespoke estate plans for our clients in Florida and nationwide.

Our plans are comprehensive and account for a broad variety of possible scenarios. We’ll make sure your will is carried over and your loved ones receive the profits of your hard labor.

Contact us for a free non-obligatory chat about estate plans. We’ll explain how it works in further detail and propose how it may work for you specifically.

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