Be Sure Your Family Is Protected With These 4 Estate Planning Tips

Date posted: January 19, 2023

Estate planning might not be the highest thing on your to-do list, but it should be pretty high on your priority. Your family needs you because in the event of your death, they are the ones that are affected in every way. So be sure your family is protected with these four estate planning tips. 

4 Estate Planning Tips

Don’t wait until something happens to start your estate planning. Begin establishing your planning while you’re healthy. The documents you need as part of your estate plan require that you be of sound mind. So if you were to wait until you were ill, or in an accident, or to do it in a hurry in duress, then it is already too late. Even though you might not want to think about starting one, it’s better than the alternative and leaving your family with too many burdens. 

One of the main reasons you set up estate plans is to avoid probate. Part of this process is setting up the right types of accounts so your loved ones don’t have any delay in taking over your assets. This means setting up TOD accounts, or transfer on death. These can include investment accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. By having beneficiaries, probate can totally be avoided. 

Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney will be the most effective way to set up your estate plan. You don’t want any errors in your documents. Your attorney will sit down with you and discuss your goals and help you to figure out what is important to you and your family. Lastly, they’ll execute the paperwork correctly. This isn’t something you want to do by yourself, online. 

It’s important to review your estate plan at least once a year. Circumstances change, people get married, divorced, have children. Jobs can change, anything can happen, so be sure your plan is up to date. 
The best way to begin planning is to sit down with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney here at Wood Seitl, and Anderson. Contact us to make an appointment today.

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Estate Planning in Sarasota Florida: Asset Protection

Date posted: January 16, 2023

One of the most popular forms of asset protection in Sarasota is through a trust. There are different types of trusts, and you need to be aware of which each one does and doesn’t do, especially in the state of Florida. When asset protection is the goal, not all trusts protect your assets. This will help you to gain understanding of asset protection in Sarasota. 

asset protection

Revocable Living Trusts 

  • In Florida, a revocable living trust will allow someone to follow out your wishes in the event you should become mentally incapacitated.
  • It will also allow someone to follow out your wishes in the event of your death.
  • It will allow your estate to avoid being sent to probate, which allows your private matters to be kept quiet by keeping it out of the court. 
  • This also allows for a quicker settlement of the estate, and less of a burden on your family members. 
  • This means that all of your paperwork needs to be in order, all payments have to have been made, and that all beneficiaries are up to date. 
  • It does not protect your assets from creditors while you are living.
  • They can be amended or canceled at any time.

Irrevocable Trusts

  • Irrevocable trusts on the other hand can protect your assets while you are living.
  • They can be part of your estate planning to aid in reducing your estate taxes
  • They are also designed to avoid costly gift taxes. 
  • It’s important to note that once assets are moved into an irrevocable trust, they can’t be moved out, hence the word irrevocable. 
  • The designated trustee is in charge of, and responsible for the irrevocable trust, not the beneficiary. 


An important but sometimes neglected responsibility in administering an estate is to look for opportunities to preserve assets for distribution. Reducing estate taxes is one way that an estate can retain more of its wealth for the decedent’s heirs. We are knowledgeable estate planning attorneys in Sarasota and Venice. Contact us today to learn more about estate planning.

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Who  Needs A Will?

Date posted: December 15, 2022

You might think that only older individuals need a will, but that isn’t true. Everyone should have a one. There isn’t a set age limit on who should have a will. If you don’t have one, you should get one. You never know when you might need it. Contact a qualified estate planning attorney and have one drawn up for you. 

who needs a will

If you have any type of real assets, bank accounts, 401k accounts, trade accounts, if you’re married, have children, then you need a will.

What happens if you don’t have a will? This is exactly why everyone needs one. If you don’t have a will and you die, then you have no control over what happens to your estate after your death. The state you live in does. This goes even further than your estate, this affects your children as well. Your family members could be left very surprised by the laws of your state, as well as spend a great deal of time and money while trying to sort out issues that could have been predetermined had you put one in place beforehand. 

About half of all people who die in the United States die without one. That is a staggering number of people! If you think it is too expensive to have one drawn up, think of how expensive and how long it will take for your loved ones to go through probate after your death.

Your knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you with the documents you need to get a will started, as well as what you need to have included in your will. Wood, Seitl and Anderson is a law firm serving Southwest Florida and focusing on Probate, Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration, and Federal Estate Tax planning in Sarasota, Venice, and surrounding areas. Contact us for more information. 

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Essential Documents as Part of Estate Planning

Date posted: December 12, 2022

As you begin your journey to estate planning, there are five essential documents that are part of estate planning. These are documents that many of us have heard of at one time or another, but when put together they form a solid foundation for an estate plan. 

Essential Documents as Part of Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament

This is probably the most common. Your last will and testament includes who will serve as the executor of your estate as well as what power over your estate they will have. Your will also names your beneficiaries and what each beneficiary shall inherit. The will also carries out your wishes as it comes to when and how assets will be distributed. If you have minor children, your Last Will and Testament will name their guardian.

  • Living Trust

 A living trust is created during your lifetime and also known as a revocable trust, meaning you can change it at any time during your lifetime. This allows you to transfer your assets without going through probate. There is no threshold size and it is more popular for those with large estates. It is the duty of the trustee to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon your death.

  • Durable Power Of Attorney 

This is also known as a POA giving someone the ability to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can name more than one person so you have a backup should something happen to the primary agent. You can also limit the authority of the agent to only specific duties.

  • Medical Power of Attorney

This is very similar to the Durable Power of Attorney where you assign an agent, or even a primary and a back up. But this is only in regards to your medical needs and wishes. The important thing to remember when choosing a medical power of attorney is that when it comes to them needing to make that very important decision, that they will be able to carry out your wishes and put their own feelings aside. 

  • Living Will

A living will is also known as an advanced directive. This is used should you become incapacitated and may need life sustaining treatments. This is something that is drawn up ahead of time as to not have loved ones make this decision for you. Imagine being in an accident, having no chance at recovery due to a brain injury. You don’t want extraordinary measures taken and to be on life support forever. Your family members don’t need to make decisions for you, you have that set up already with a living will. 

These are a few documents you need to become familiar with as you begin your estate planning journey. Contact one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys to discuss your future estate planning needs today. 

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Essentials of Estate Planning

Date posted: October 20, 2022

There are some essentials of estate planning when it comes to protecting yourself, and your family members. If your affairs aren’t in order, not only will your loved ones bear the burden, but they could possibly bear a financial burden, and potentially argue with other family members during their most difficult times. These are the steps you should take when contacting a trusted estate planning attorney.

Essentials of Estate Planning

Will

Many people don’t like thinking about drawing up a will, mainly because they’re thinking it signifies end of life. But even young people should have one, and you don’t need to be wealthy to have one either. It’s important to have one if you have children, and to name an executor of your estate.

Trusts

Speak with your knowledgeable estate planning attorney about establishing a trust. Either a living trust, or an irrevocable trust. This will help your family members avoid having to go to probate court, it can also help to protect them from paying inheritance tax. If beneficiaries aren’t capable of handling finances, it can protect them from spending too much at once. There are many benefits of setting up trusts.

Beneficiaries

As time goes on, people change, life changes. It’s important to keep your beneficiaries up to date. This means on 401k plans, bank accounts, insurance policies, and your wills and trusts. People get married, divorced, have children. Be sure to review your designations for life changes at least every two years.

Paperwork

Keep your paperwork in order, and even better yet, have it in a place where your executor knows where they are. This means your tax returns, insurance policies, mortgage information, health insurance, creditors, doctors, lawyers, accountants, brokerage information. They should all be easily accessible.

Safety

Keep originals in a safe place that isn’t a safety deposit box. Often a safety deposit box can be sealed by the state when someone dies. And when they’re home, they could be damaged. So keep it with your experienced estate planning attorney, and even make a digital copy just to be safe!

Wood, Seitl and Anderson is a law firm serving Sarasota, Venice, and surrounding areas. We and focus on Probate, Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration, and Federal Estate Tax planning. Contact us today!

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Hire a Qualified Estate Administration Attorney

Date posted: October 11, 2022

It’s important to hire a qualified estate administration attorney, because it is a complicated process which can be overwhelming in normal circumstances, let alone while grieving. Most people don’t have a basic understanding of what estate administration involves, which is why it’s important to hire a qualified estate administration attorney.

Qualified Estate Administration Attorney

Anything a person once owned makes up their estate, and without a will, managing it is very complex. Selecting a personal representative is an important part because this person must be responsible. They will need to manage the entire estate, take steps to ensure that nothing is taken, and be responsible for maintaining the property to keep its value.

This personal representative is also responsible for:

  • Both locating and collecting all property
  • Paying all debts and taxes
  • Paying funeral expenses
  • Paying all beneficiaries
  • Real Estate Mortgages and liens
  • Medical debts
  • Other debts

They are also responsible for:

  • Finding and notifying all creditors and debtors and notifying of the death
  • Locating all assets
  • Closing or setting up new bank accounts
  • Accounting for any and all life insurance policies

If there aren’t enough assets to pay all debts, the courts may need to be involved to determine who gets paid first. If there are assets remaining after all debts are paid, the will will determine how the assets are distributed. If there is no will, the state could rule on distribution.

If you are the administrator, you yourself could consider a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to help with any questions you might have regarding your duties.

Our trusted estate administration attorneys are proudly offering services in the Sarasota and Venice areas of Florida. If you are in need of creating estate plans, or have questions about an estate you are a trustee of, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your options. We’re here for you.

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Estate Planning; is it a Big Deal?

Date posted: September 21, 2022

It doesn’t matter what the size of your estate is when you leave it behind. Estate planning is a big deal, and everyone should have an estate plan set in place. Things can change in a moment, and unexpected things happen. It is especially important if you have family members who depend on you.

estate planning

Why is estate planning such a big deal? Estate planning is here to protect you and your family in the event that you pass away. Your family is left behind and there are so many things for them to handle in your absence, the last thing that you, or they need to worry about is what happens with your assets. When you hire a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, they help you to ensure that your assets are taken care of properly by your family, or if you’re no longer able to make decisions about them due to being incapacitated, or upon your death.

When you don’t have proper estate planning in place, then your assets fall into the hands of the court. They will then assign someone, not a family member to decide what happens with your estate. To protect your assets, it’s imperative to hire an experienced estate planning attorney to set up your final wishes in a legal document to be distributed to your beneficiaries, as set forth in your final wishes.

Not only does this protect your assets, but as mentioned above, this saves your family from having to worry about this, and prevent arguing during a time of grieving.

It’s important to remember that estate plans do need updating from time to time to account for significant events in the family such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and even moves. They are an ever changing document, as your life, as well as your assets will change as life goes on.

At Wood, Seitl, & Anderson, estate planning is our area of expertise and has been one of our client focus areas for 70 years in the Sarasota, Venice, and Bradenton areas of Florida. Contact us today.

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Generic Health Care Proxy, Should You Sign It?

Date posted: August 26, 2022

Have you been to the hospital for a basic or even an emergency procedure and been asked to sign a generic health care proxy? When your life could be at risk, the hospital staff is required to ask you to sign one if you do not have one in place, should something happen where you cannot speak for yourself. But should you sign a generic health care proxy?

Hospitals use these in advance so they are allowed to treat patients in the case of an emergency. They are however generic in form. This means they are not tailored to your specific needs or your individual case. You should be cautious when being asked to sign these forms. Not only that, but because it is so important, you shouldn’t be waiting to sign one during a time of stress.

Generic Health Care Proxy

Having a health care proxy specifically designed for you is important. There are so many important items that should be included such as:

  • What happens should you stay impaired after your procedure
  • Do you wish to become an organ donor
  • Do you want pain medication
  • Should you be placed on life support
  • How long should you remain on life support

This is why it’s important to have a knowledgeable estate planning attorney on your side. Part of your estate planning includes completing a health care proxy. This is important because if provides your agent the knowledge to speak on your behalf should you become incapacitated about specific medical treatments you desire, and which ones you don’t. Your estate planning isn’t complete unless you complete a health care proxy.

If you don’t have a health care proxy drafted yet, contact an experienced estate planning attorney here at Wood, Seitl, & Anderson. We have offices conveniently located in both Sarasota and Venice and serve the nearby areas.

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5 Ways to Mitigate Potential Estate Tax Increases

Date posted: August 17, 2022

We don’t want to think about our loved ones passing away. We also don’t know what laws will be in place when that time comes. This makes it important to protect your estate while you can and mitigate estate tax increases now. There are several ways this can happen. Having a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is one of those ways in which you can accomplish this.

Estate Tax Increases

Meet with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to work closely with you to make plans for the best actions you can take, especially during these uncertain times. They will help you determine what the best decisions are for the future of your assets.

In 2022 the annual federal gift tax exclusion has increased from $15,000 to $16,000. This is a great way to prepare, and you can gift unlimited individuals per calendar year. The lifetime exemption also increased in 2022 from $11.7 million to $12.06 million.

These days, having a will isn’t the only thing necessary. You need to be sure that all of your assets are labeled accordingly. When you have a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, your survivors will be able to take advantage of exclusions, which is why properly titling assets is essential and depends on your individual financial situation as well as your individual family dynamics.

Making charitable contributions is another way to be sure that your estate planning techniques don’t fall awry. You don’t want to exceed the amount that makes you come out of the exempt benchmark, and there is no limit on the amount you can donate.

An Irrevocable Trust can be designed to reduce estate tax. A knowledgeable probate attorney can help set this up so the estate size is minimized, as well as minimizing the tax implications. When established correctly, they are great options.

Start planning for your future, and the future of your family now, we don’t know what laws will be enacted when. This is why the experienced estate planning attorneys at Wood Seitl & Anderson are here for you every step of the way to preserve your estate assets. Contact us to learn more.

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33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes

Date posted: June 11, 2021

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the federal estate tax exemption considerably. Before the tax reform law, it was $5.49 million per person for 2017. It’s up to $11.7 million for 2021 ($23.4 million for a married couple). So, now, even fewer taxpayers have to worry about federal estate taxes when they die. However, if your goal is to leave as much as you can to your heirs, then you should also pay attention to the state you choose for retirement.

Source / Read full Article on Kiplinger

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10 Ways to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Their Finances

Date posted: June 9, 2021

There’s a good chance that many adult children will have to get involved with their parents’ financial lives as they age. Yet, an overwhelming majority of adult children – 73% – have not had detailed conversations with their parents about their finances, according to a survey by GOBankingRates. One of the primary reasons why survey respondents said they haven’t had “the talk” yet with their parents is because they don’t know how to have the discussion.

Source / Read Full Article on Kiplinger

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What Happens to Your Digital Assets When You Die?

Date posted: June 8, 2021

Not very long ago, owning a personal computer was a novelty. Today we all interact personally and professionally using desktop or laptop computers and access the internet by way of cellphones. The constant presence of digital information in our lives has led to social and economic changes that would have been hard to anticipate only a few generations ago.

Source / Read Full Article on Kiplinger

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Now Is the Time to Protect Your Health Care Decision-Making Rights

Date posted: June 7, 2021

As hard as it is to get some people to embrace estate planning, getting them to take seriously the need for a health care decision-making plan is even more difficult. At least, that was the case pre-pandemic.

We are no longer in an era of hypotheticals. There is a growing sense that being incapacitated by a disease or serious injury is not something conjectural or out of the realm of possibility. The last 12 months have reminded us all that our health is fragile, regardless of our age or if we have an existing medical condition.

Source / Read Full Article on Kiplinger

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