Panama City Estate Planning Lawyer
Helping Clients with Asset Protection in Panama City, Florida
An estate consists of all the assets a person owns. This includes real estate, stocks and bonds, investments of every kind, cash, and tangible personal property (such as jewelry, guns, tools, vehicles, art, etc.). Above all, a carefully prepared estate plan should provide for the disposition of these assets in a way that clearly reflects the client's wishes.
Typical estate planning falls into two categories: 1) planning for taxable estates, and 2) planning for non-taxable estates. Once a client realizes that his or her assets will be subject to death tax, there are a number of estate minimization options available.
As a tax attorney, one of my goals is to reduce, if not, eliminate the imposition of death tax. For many clients, death tax is simply unavoidable. However, these same clients are typically the ones who benefit the most from careful planning. There are many ways to reduce an individual's taxable estate, and the best way to proceed has a lot to do with the assets in question. Irrespective of whether or not an estate will be subject to death tax, there are issues that should be addressed in every estate plan.
In addition to using a will (and possibly one or more trusts) to provide for the disposition of assets, a normal estate plan should include the following:
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate - (a document that names one or more individuals to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so)
- Living Will - (a document that reflects your wishes regarding the use of life sustaining measures following a determination that there is no realistic chance of a medical recovery)
- Durable Power of Attorney - (a document that gives one or more trusted individuals authorization to act on your behalf in legal and business matters)
- If Relevant - I advise my clients to name a preferred guardian to care for their minor children.
The estate tax is an area of the law that is one of my favorites because there are so many planning options available for maximizing a client's tax savings. Also, it is very satisfying to help clients pass their life savings on to their chosen beneficiaries. Another great thing about tax focused estate planning is that my fees are often insignificant when compared with the savings to my clients and/or their estates.
As an estate planning attorney, I can advise you on the various tools that can help you reach your objectives. Based on your unique assets and goals, I will craft an estate plan customized to your needs. If you live or work in the Panama City area, and you would like to discuss your specific needs regarding and estate plan, I invite you to contact my office for a consultation.
Florida Estate Planning
Planning for the protection your loved ones following your death is an important task. The assistance of a trusted estate planning attorney is something that should bring peace of mind and personal confidence. It is my goal is to do just that. As an attorney focused in this area, I will take the time to sit down with you and to clearly understand the various aspects of your estate, your family, and your particular goals. I will guide you through the process so that you will be able to make the best decisions regarding your family and the beneficiaries of your estate.
Talk to a Panama City Estate Planning Attorney
It can be unpleasant to contemplate death or a time when you are no longer mentally capable of making decisions, but careful planning should eliminate this burden for your loved ones. Also, prior planning will ensure that your wishes are documented.
Would you like to discuss your estate planning needs? Please consider contacting Panama City estate planning attorney Max W. McCord III.
What are some of the benefits of conducting business through a legal entity?
One of the most important benefits is the protection of your personal assets against the claims of creditors. Generally speaking, directors, officers, managers, members, and stockholders (the interested parties) are not held personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business entity. The interested parties should be limited in their personal liability to the amount invested in the company. Another legal benefit is the transferability of ownership, which can be done either in whole or in part. Also, some estate tax planning options are only available to business entities. Retirement funds, such as 401ks may be established more easily. Also, a business entity can acquire and establish its own credit rating.
What are some of the mistakes people make when going into business?There are always risks involved in going into business. As most people know, a majority of small businesses do not succeed in the long run. Mistakes of new business owners may include the lack of a realistic business plan, underestimating costs and tax liabilities, and unfavorable business contracts/agreements. Even more problematic is a failure to understand the business or the marketplace, underestimating the competition, and/or not being effective at managing a business. Responsibility for these latter areas ultimately falls to the owners, but sound legal advice can substantially improve the chances of success.
How can I be protected from liability claims that arise from my business?
Generally speaking, business owners doing business as limited liability companies, corporations, or limited partnerships do not have personal liability for the obligations or debts of the business. This assumes that no personal guarantees have been executed. If the business has been properly created, it is a separate legal entity. The details of formation are important, and the filing fees must be paid. If properly created and maintained, the assets owned by the business should be the only ones that are subject to debt or other liability considerations.