Estate Planning

Estate Planning Lawyer in Lake County, Florida 

If you are looking for crucial information about estate planning, you have come to the right place. On this page, you will find what you need to know about wills, codicils, power of attorney relationships, and trusts. Read on, and feel free to contact the Law Offices of Jason G. Smith with any questions about your specific situation. We are a client-focused and results-driven firm that has earned a reputation in Florida and Georgia for looking out for the people we serve and helping them navigate even the trickiest estate planning matters. 

To schedule a free consultation with our Lake County estate planning lawyer, get in touch with us. For our Lake County, Florida office, call (407) 634-2784. For our Newnan, Georgia office, call (678) 498-5270.  

What Is the Difference Between Wills and Codicils?

Many people have heard of wills and codicils, but they might not know the differences between the two. Let us start with their definitions. A will is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets and property should be distributed after their death. A codicil, on the other hand, is a legal document that makes changes or amendments to a person's existing will.

The primary difference between a will and a codicil is that a will is a comprehensive document that covers all aspects of a person's estate, while a codicil only modifies or adds to an existing will. For example, a will might address issues such as who will serve as the executor of the estate, how to distribute a person’s assets, and who will care for any minor children. A codicil, however, might simply name a different executor or change how to distribute one asset. 

Codicils are typically best for making small changes to an existing will. Unfortunately, one or more codicils can make the terms of a will unclear and undermine its original intent. This is why rewriting a will is ideal for making significant changes.

What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

By establishing a power of attorney (POA) relationship, an individual (the “principal”) can authorize another person (the “agent”) to act on their behalf in making financial and legal decisions. This process typically gives the agent authority to manage the principal’s bank accounts, pay their bills, sign contracts on their behalf, and consent to medical procedures. 

POA relationships are important tools in estate planning because they allow individuals to put plans into place if their age, an accident, or an illness leaves them unable to make financial or medical decisions. In any of these cases, a POA authorizes an agent to step in to handle important matters without going through the process of obtaining guardianship. 

There are three primary types of POAs:

  • General: This allows an agent to make a broad range of specified legal decisions on behalf of a principal.
  • Durable: This goes into effect immediately and stays in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
  • Limited: This gives the agent authority to perform a specific act only.

Living Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts 

A trust can be boiled down to a legal agreement between three parties: the person creating the trust (the grantor), the person or organization tasked with managing the assets in the trust (the trustee), and the person or people who benefit from the trust (the beneficiaries). Trusts allow grantors to have detailed and personalized control over how to distribute their assets. 

Two common types of trusts are living and irrevocable trusts. A living trust allows a grantor to control their assets during their lifetime, and a grantor can amend or revoke it at any time. On the other hand, an irrevocable trust is more permanent, and a grantor usually cannot change it once they have established it. One of the main advantages of an irrevocable trust is that it removes assets from an estate, which can potentially reduce estate taxes.

Protect Your Assets with a Trust

When it comes to estate planning, one important tool to consider is a trust. A trust allows you to protect your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes. At the Law Offices of Jason G. Smith, our experienced attorneys can help you understand the different types of trusts available and determine which one is right for you.

Benefits of establishing a trust include:

  • Asset protection: A trust can shield your assets from creditors and lawsuits, ensuring they are preserved for your beneficiaries.
  • Probate avoidance: Unlike a will, assets held in a trust do not go through probate, which can save time and money for your loved ones.
  • Privacy: Trusts are not public documents, so your estate plan remains confidential.
  • Control: With a trust, you can specify how and when your assets are distributed, ensuring your wishes are carried out.
  • Flexibility: Trusts can be customized to meet your unique needs and goals.

Whether you need assistance with a revocable living trust, an irrevocable trust, or any other estate planning matter, our team is here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Jason G. Smith today to schedule a consultation.

Turn to the Law Offices of Jason G. Smith Today 

Since 2004, we have served thousands of clients and their families. With this level of experience, the Law Offices of Jason G. Smith ought to be your first call. Visit our reviews page to read testimonials from people our estate planning lawyer in Lake County served in the past. We hope that by reading these experiences you will feel confident choosing our firm to handle the often-complex processes of drafting wills and codicils, establishing POAs and trusts, and more. 

Contact us today!