Elder law is the legal practice covering a person's arrangements for care, social security, retirement, protection against elder abuse, estate planning, and other concerns of the aging person. In today's high pace society, it has become extremely important to plan for incapacity. Additionally, as the baby boomers come to age, this area of law has become an increasingly important field.
Estate planning is the area of law that deals with arranging the person’s affairs for after he or she is no longer with us. With good planning, much time and money can be saved. By using the help of an attorney there are many tax saving strategies that can be taken advantage of. These are all tax savings granted by our government that many people miss for not having a well designed estate plan. Time and stress of our loved ones can also be prevented by putting an estate plan together that speed up or even avoid the probate court procedures. An estate plan can also include advance directives to plan for incapacity, like a living will, power of attorney, and more. Caution must be used when using generic and pre-printed forms, probate laws are very strict when it comes to the execution of a will and a simple deviation from the will formalities can render a will invalid. This would result in the estate passing through the laws of intestacy in a probate court proceeding, which sometimes is an expensive nightmare for the surviving family, and in many cases ends up in loving families becoming divided over disagreements about the administration and division of the estate assets. "Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate." - Ambrose Bierce.
Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. Probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the decedent left a valid will, unless the will is admitted to probate in the court, it will be ineffective to pass ownership of probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the decedent had no will, probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to those persons who are to receive them under Florida law. There are two types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration. There is also a non-court supervised administration proceeding called "Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration." This type of administration only applies in limited circumstances.