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Carrie Lavargna is the past President of the Martin County Estate Planning Council and has years of experience as an estate planning attorney in the Treasure Coast.

Having an estate plan in place assures that your wishes are carried out after your death. A clear estate plan is also a gift to your family because they know how "mom or dad wanted things.” In a Will, an individual names the beneficiaries whom he or she wants to inherit assets and designates a personal representative (Florida’s term for an executor) of his or her choosing to administer the probate estate.

If there is no valid Will, or if the Will fails in some respect, Florida law dictates who inherits the assets. Florida law is complicated and it is best to review these rules with a Florida lawyer. In some instances, Florida law may override certain provisions in an otherwise valid Will.

For a young family, the Will also designates the guardian for minor children and can set up a trust to handle money available to care for the children. Young family estate plans are a focus for Tony Lavargna who understands the simple yet effective needs of this generation.

A revocable trust is a document created to manage your assets during your lifetime and distribute the remaining assets after your death. The trust is called "revocable” since you may modify or terminate the trust during your lifetime, as long as you are not incapacitated. When you create a trust, you often have an accompanying “pour over” will, which means that any assets that get probated through your will “pour” into your trust.

Trusts are a useful tool that many use to avoid probate. Assets held inside of a trust should avoid probate in most circumstances. Probate is a lengthly and expensive court process in which your Will is submitted to the courts and distributed through judicial orders. Some choose to avoid this process by creation of a Individual or Family Trust.

In addition to revocable trusts there are several other types of trust applicable to specific situations, such as a special needs trust, life insurance trust, and trusts for grandchildren.

The discussion between setting up a Will or Trust is required for each unique situation. Under Estate Planning norms, there is no appropriate one-size-fits-all approach.