I am a long-time resident of Snell Isle and obtained my law degree from Stetson University College of Law. After practicing with a small firm for nine years, I opened my own law practice on Beach Drive in 2004. I am a solo practitioner, focusing on Estate and Incapacity planning and Probate and Trust Administration. What sets my practice apart from others is my desire to serve clients in their particular season of life, whatever that might be. Life’s journey is not always easy, and I strive to make my clients feel secure and in control of what happens to them whether they are well, ill, incapacitated, or on their dying bed. I go well beyond my duties to please my clients and to serve their needs.
Through this coronavirus pandemic, we have certainly become accustomed to the uncertainty of just about all aspects of our lives. Time spent listening to news reports and reading the statistics, while sustaining disruptions in our work and other typical life activities has caused people of all ages and walks of life to grapple with their own mortality and also with the possibility of becoming seriously ill. What was once viewed as a risk primarily for seniors and those with underlying conditions has now broadened its attack, as we have learned of the potential for coronavirus to attack children and young adults, as well as older age groups.
As an estate planning attorney, I have witnessed a heightened awareness in our community of the need for estate and incapacity planning. We all need to have a plan to remain in control of what happens to us during our lives, in the event we cannot manage our own affairs, and after death, so our desires will be carried out. Many people mistakenly think that estate planning only involves the writing of a Will or Trust. Estate planning, however, often involves financial, tax, medical and business planning. Wills or Trusts are part of the planning process, but you will also need other documents as well to fully address your estate planning and incapacity planning needs. Planning involves a willingness to capture the opportunity while you are alive and capable of planning for unexpected life events/situations such as the coronavirus. The following are examples of the issues that are addressed through estate/incapacity planning:
- Whether a Living Trust is advisable for you.
- The best way to handle your homestead property.
- When and under what circumstances it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime.
- How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime if you ever become unable to manage them yourself.
- How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself.
- Who will be “in charge” of your bill paying and decision making if you are ill, incapacitated or simply out of the country.
- How would you like your “end of life” experience to be handled.
- How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death, including retirement assets, real estate and regular investment accounts.
For the college-aged group (and anyone over the age of 18), only the planning for unexpected events during life will likely be needed. Once a child reaches the age of 18, parents cannot speak on their behalf, gain access to records or make medical decisions in emergency situations, unless the child has completed a Health Care Surrogate and Durable Power of Attorney. Parents will want the ability to help make medical and other decisions for their children if the child has an issue (such as COVID) or is in an accident or in the hospital. These documents allow the child to choose who they want to act on their behalf providing peace of mind to both the child and the parents.
I find it very rewarding to create estate and incapacity plans for clients’ lives and after death so that they can live with a feeling of peace that their desires will really be met, regardless of their age and stage. I love meeting clients’ families and also completing planning for the extended family. Engaging in real life, often painful situations, with clients is one of the highest honors I can imagine, and I am greatly appreciative of this opportunity. I also enjoy educating others about the benefits of estate and incapacity planning because I know that, without planning, many difficulties and unintended consequences may occur.
As a procedural note, my office now completes all of your review and planning over the phone and conducts the signing of documents on our office porch overlooking Beach Drive. Your safety is our priority. Please contact me if you would like a complimentary review of your current documents or if you need to discuss a new plan.