Drafting Estate Plans as a Caring Advocate

Dear fellow JGCC neighbors and friends,

Last month I shared a story of Bill and Diane and analyzed how estate planning affected their lives. This month, as we enter the season of love, I’d like to introduce myself and share a story that is near and dear to my heart.

We all have dreams – dreams for a bright future, dreams of happiness, dreams of remembrance – dreams of hope, success, and gratitude. Many of our dreams are based on life experiences, either personal or those of our family and friends. My dream to become a caring advocate began many years ago.

On May 17, 2000 I unexpectedly lost my father in car accident. Soon after the incident my mother reached out to her attorney and my father’s estate was probated. The process was a nightmare – It took years to settle, created confusion and was very costly (both emotionally and financially). I vividly recall the stress our family endured and the ramifications continued for years.

Fast forward 8 years. In 2008 I began working with a local tax and estate planning attorney. At one point I brought my father’s probate case and tax ramifications to his attention and asked his opinion on what had occurred. He taught me that some people draft estate plans as a caring advocate, after getting to know the client and with the client’s best interest in mind and others draft them so that in the event of death, a probate is inevitable.

In Florida, attorney’s fees for probates are statutory. Florida Statute §733.6171 provides an attorney with the following fees:

  •  3% of the probate estate’s value up to $1 Million dollars;
  •  2.5% of the value above $1 Million and up to $3 Million;
  •  2% for any amount above $3 Million up to $5Million;
  • 1.5% for any amount above $5 Million up to $10 Million; and
  • 1% for any amount above $10 Million.

Now, let’s do the math. An estate valued at $400,000 translates to $16,000 in attorney’s fees, plus additional fees for dealing with real estate or tax matters. An estate valued at $3 Million translates into $80,000 in attorney’s fees. Additionally, even a simple probate case can take up to 9 months to settle and a complex case can last for years. In the interim, the family must wait to receive their inheritance. This transition can cause a financial disaster in addition to the emotional pain of the loss of a loved one.

I learned from this tragedy and was determined to become a trustworthy, caring advocate. I am committed to placing each person in the best position possible on the day of signing their documents. I learned that building relationships is much more important than building a book of clients.

So today, I am here to build a relationship with you. I am here to help you achieve the best legal position. You have a caring advocate.