Estate Planning & Probate
Mrs. Mallory has helped numerous families in Panama City, Panama City Beach, Lynn Haven, and the surrounding areas with their estate planning needs and probate legal matters. She believes in making estate planning and probate affordable and strives to provide you and your family with cost-effective legal advice and representation for any estate planning or probate needs. Mrs. Mallory believes that every person should have a Last Will and Testament and realizes that for most people this will be their only encounter with a lawyer or law office. She and her staff will help make this experience a positive one for you and your family.
A checklist to help you with your estate planning:
1. Make a will. A simple will should state who you want to inherit your property and if you have young children name a guardian should something happen to you and the other parent.
2. Consider a trust. If all of your property is held in a living trust, the probate process may be avoided.
3. Make health care directives. You should include a health care declaration or “Living Will” and a health care surrogate which gives the person of your choice the power to make health decisions if you cannot, including the decision to without life support if that would only prolong the process of dying.
4. Make a financial power of attorney. Florida provides for a durable power of attorney which would allow the person of your choice to handle all financial matters on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Your designee is referred to as your “attorney-in-fact”.
5. Your children’s inheritance. You should designate a person to handle any money or property your children may inherit. This is usually handled in a trust provision in the will and the person you so designate is referred to as the Trustee.
6. File beneficiary forms. In Florida, if you name a beneficiary on your bank accounts and retirement account or brokerage accounts, then the funds transfer automatically to your so-named beneficiary upon your death and avoid the probate process.
7. Consider life insurance. Life insurance may be a good planning tool if you have young children or owe significant debts, including a mortgage on your home.
8. Understand estate taxes. For deaths in 2015, the estate tax will only apply to a taxable estate that exceeds $5.43 million per individual. Married couples can transfer up to twice the exempt amount tax-free with proper planning, and all assets left to a spouse who is also a U.S. citizen or a tax-exempt charity are free from estate tax.
9. Cover funeral expenses. You may want to set up a payable-on-death account at your bank to deposit funds to pay for your funeral and related expenses.
10. Make final arrangements. Make your wishes known regarding organ and body donation. In Florida, you may do so when registering your driver’s license. Also make your wishes known regarding cremation or burial.
11. Protect your business. Sole owners of businesses should have a plan for succession. If you own a business with others, you should have a buyout agreement.
12. Store your documents. Notify the person who you designated as your Personal Representative in your will where your original estate planning documents are located and make sure they have access.
These would including the following documents:
Real Estate Deeds
Certificates for Stocks, Bonds, Annuities
Information on Bank Accounts, Mutual Funds, and Safe Deposit Boxes
Information on Retirement Plans, 401(k) Accounts, or IRAs
Information on Debts: Credit Cards, Mortgages and Loans, Utilities, and Unpaid Taxes
Information on Funeral Prepayment Plans, and Any Final Arrangements Instructions You Have Made
If you have questions or need assistance with any of your estate planning needs, please contact us at (850)747-8131 or by email to setup an appointment.