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The 6 Steps to Creating a Solid Estate Plan in Florida

Creating a Solid Estate Plan in Florida

Estate planning is an important process for Florida residents to undertake. A solid estate plan ensures your wishes are carried out and provides protection for your loved ones after you pass away. While every estate plan is unique, most follow a similar series of steps from start to finish.

Stokes McMillan Antúnez Martinez-Lejarza P.A. is a full-service Florida trusts and estates law firm providing services including, but not limited to, probate, estate planning, trust & estate administration, and trust and estate litigation. If you have any questions or wish to hire our firm, please contact us

1. Take Inventory of Your Assets and Debts

The first step is to take a full accounting of what you own and what you owe. Your estate planning attorney will help you create a net worth statement, listing the current value of assets like your home, vehicles, investment accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, collectibles, and personal property. Be sure to also list any debts like mortgages, loans, credit cards, or medical bills.

2. Choose Beneficiaries

Next, decide who will inherit your assets and in what amounts. Often primary beneficiaries are a spouse, children or other close family members. You may also want to name secondary beneficiaries like grandchildren, nieces/nephews, or charities. Update named beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies.

3. Select an Executor

An executor is the person who oversees the execution of your will and handles tasks like paying debts and taxes, filing court papers, and distributing assets. Choose a responsible adult who can handle the complex legal and financial duties. Many people select a spouse, adult child, or trusted friend.

4. Make Funeral and Burial Plans

Outline your wishes for final arrangements in your estate plan to spare loved ones from making difficult decisions later. You can specify details like burial vs. cremation, organ donation, and any funeral service preferences. Share this information with your executor.

5. Choose a Guardian for Minor Children

If you have minor children, your estate plan should designate a guardian to care for them should both parents pass away. Discuss this important choice with the potential guardian before finalizing your plan.

6. Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer is key to ensuring your plan follows all legal requirements in Florida. The attorney will draft critical documents like:

  • Last will and testament - Outlines exactly how you want your assets distributed and names an executor.

  • Revocable living trust - Avoids the prolonged probate process in Florida by transferring assets to beneficiaries privately.

  • Financial power of attorney - Names someone to manage finances if you become incapacitated.

  • Healthcare power of attorney - Gives someone authority to make medical decisions if you are unable to.

  • Living will - Provides instructions for end-of-life medical care like life support.

Why Have an Estate Plan?

Having an estate plan in Florida provides many benefits:

  • Avoids family disputes - Makes your wishes legally binding to minimize conflict between beneficiaries.

  • Protects minor children - Ensures guardianship and financial support is in place if both parents die.

  • Distributes assets efficiently - Allows you to control exactly how assets are allocated, not the courts.

  • Minimizes taxes - Takes advantage of all available exemptions and deductions.

  • Provides peace of mind - Gives you confidence your loved ones will be provided for.

How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

The cost of creating an estate plan varies greatly based on your location in Florida and your family's specific needs, but often ranges from $1,500-$5,000 on average. The price typically includes estate attorney fees to prepare the necessary documents, filing fees, and other administrative costs. It's wise to view estate planning as an investment in your family's future.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the purpose of making an estate plan?

To distribute your assets according to your wishes, minimize family disputes, avoid probate, and ensure your loved ones are financially protected after you die.

2. How much does an estate planning attorney cost?

Between $200-$500 per hour on average, with a typical estate plan costing $1,500-$5,000 overall depending on complexity.

3. What does an estate planning attorney do after death?

They assist your named executor in navigating the legal system to probate your will, pay debts/taxes, and distribute inheritances.

4. How much does estate planning cost?

$1,500-$5,000 on average, including attorney fees to draft documents and filing fees. Cost varies based on your needs.

5. How can I avoid probate?

Creating a revocable living trust and transferring assets into it will allow your estate to be settled privately, avoiding probate court.

Your Florida Estate Attorney 

Stokes McMillan Antúnez Martinez-Lejarza P.A. is a full-service Florida trusts and estates law firm providing services including, but not limited to, probate, estate planning, trust & estate administration, and trust and estate litigation. If you have any questions or wish to hire our firm, please contact us


This article was partly generated by the use of artificial intelligence or AI, and is provided as general information for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for competent advice from a licensed attorney. To speak with one of our attorneys all you have to do is click here.If you’re interested in more in-depth ruminations on this area of the law written 100% by a live human being, visit the Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog by going to the home page for firm partner Juan Antunez.

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