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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116821
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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My husband and I are close to retirement. We have no children

Customer Question

My husband and I are close to retirement. We have no children or dependents. What ever we own we would like to pass on to the surviving spouse. Should anything happen to both of us, we would like to name a "trustee". I think we just need a simple will. What kind of "wills" should we be doing now? ex. Living will, Last Will, etc. and how do we find a lawyer? or are the online Legal Zoom, etc. just as good.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Hi! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
Can you provide me a bit more information? When you reference that if something happens to both of you, you would like to name a "trustee," what exactly do you mean by that? Who do you want to get your assets should both of you die? And, are you thinking you want that to go in trust for someone other than them getting it outright? Thanks!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I mean, what if we both become incapacitated, who can handle our finances for us, etc. What kind of will do we need for that.
Also, what if one of us dies, we just want the surviving spouse to inherit everything. What kind of will do we need for that?
Or if the surviving spouse is unable to handle things for himself/herself, and we need someone to handle it.
Or what if we both die, and decide to leave all our inheritance to someone else, what kind of will do we need for that?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Am I going to wait now for the answer, or do I have to click anything so you will answer my clarification questions above?
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry. I am helping another customer and intended to help you as soon I was finished. So you don't have to wait further, I will opt out to open your question up to all experts so another expert can hopefully timely provide you the information you seek. Please do not respond to this post as it will only slow the process of such an expert picking up your question. Take care.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I am a different contributor and look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You are mixing the terms "trustee" with "will." They are for two different purposes. In a will, when one person dies, the property transfers to the beneficiaries listed in the will and the will is managed by an "executor," but the executor simply probates the estate through probate court (which FL law mandates an attorney be used to do so).
If you are worried about someone managing the money and assets upon death or incapacitation, you may consider forming a trust (depending on how much you have in assets) which would have a trustee who could be anyone you trust including it could be a trustee company (such as through a bank or investment service or attorney which provides a trustee service for a fee). You could also, instead of a trust, use your will and each of you have a Durable Power of Attorney which you would give to someone you trust (like a close friend or an attorney) to make them responsible to manage the assets in the event the remaining spouse becomes disabled or incapacitated.
So those you can see are two different things. If you have a significant number of assets you want to protect from not only others like medicaid, but to make sure your spouse is cared for, then using an irrevocable trust is your best vehicle to accomplish this and in FL that means you would need to go to a local trust and estates or elder law attorney to set that up and to name your trustees and successor trustee in case the surviving spouse becomes incapacitated so they could be cared for.
What you are seeking to do here would likely be best served by the irrevocable trust if you have moderate or significant assets and real estate you are seeking to manage and protect. However, if you do not want the trust, then the next thing would be to execute your will and each of you have a Durable Power of Attorney naming a person to handle the affairs if the person is not able to do so and also name a successor PoA in the event that person cannot do so (this is more cumbersome, but it is the other alternative for what you are seeking).