Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

941 954 9991

Estate Planning & Probate

Estate Planning
& Probate

Every family should have an estate plan, not just the phenomenally wealthy. Estate plans cover incapacity and death, and although these are difficult discussions, our estate planning attorneys will guide you step-by-step through what can be confusing. And by tapping into estate planning services now, Berlin Patten Ebling’s experienced trust and estate planning lawyers will help preserve your legacy and protect your family for generations. 

Do You Need A Simple Will Or Living Trust?

We often encounter this question – and it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” answer. Our estate planning lawyers can help you decide if a simple will or living trust is best for you based on your unique asset profile, family dynamics, and personal goals. However, it would be best if you had a fundamental estate planning checklist to protect your family, and we can help you build it.

  • Last Will & Testament
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Surrogate Designation
  • Living Will
  • Revocable Living Trust (optional)

A Customized Approach To Estate Planning

Our goal at Berlin Patten Ebling is to educate and never sell you on a particular estate planning technique. Instead, your estate planning attorney will present options in clear, plain language and empower you to choose the best solution to protect your assets and family. In addition, as laws inevitably change, we encourage you to meet with an attorney annually to ensure your plan stands the test of time. 

Our Estate Planning Services: 

  • Wills 
  • Revocable Trusts 
  • Other types of trusts 
  • Trust Funding  
  • Healthcare Advance Directives 
  • Powers of Attorney 
  • Beneficiary Designations 
  • Lady Bird Deeds  
  • Business Succession Planning 
  • Long-term Care Planning 
  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning 

Our Estate & Trust Administration Services: 

  • Probate Administration 
  • Trust Administration 
  • Will Contests 
  • Fiduciary Litigation 
  • Trust Litigation  

What is Probate? 

In Florida, probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the remaining decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. If the decedent had a valid Last Will & Testament, the probate is considered testate, and any probate assets will be distributed pursuant to the Will; on the other hand, if the decedent did not have a valid Last Will & Testament, the probate is considered intestate, and any probate assets will be distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws, which can be found here. 

Under Florida law, there are two types of probate administration: Summary Administration and Formal Administration. Our experienced probate attorneys and paralegals will help you determine whether probate is necessary, as well as which type of probate administration is appropriate. 

What are Probate Assets? 

Probate administration applies only to probate assets. Probate assets are those assets owned in the decedent’s sole name at death or owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners and lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death. Examples of assets or property that may be probate assets may include: 

  • A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent with no valid designated beneficiaries is a probate asset. On the other hand, a bank account or investment account owned by the decedent and payable on death (POD) or transferable on death (TOD) to another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, may not be a probate asset. 
  • A life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset. On the other hand, a life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account payable to a designated beneficiary may not be a probate asset. 
  • Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or the decedent’s name and another person as tenants in common, is a probate asset (however, please note that homestead property has special rules that apply). However, real estate titled in the name of the decedent and one or more other persons as joint tenants with rights of survivorship is not a probate asset. Also, property owned by spouses as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die. 

Please note that this list is not exclusive, but rather is intended to be illustrative. Your consultation with one of our experienced probate lawyers will include a customized analysis of whether each of the decedent’s assets must be probated. 

Why is Probate Necessary?

Probate may be necessary to transfer ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the decedent left a valid Last Will & Testament, the Court will admit the Will (according to procedures) to probate to transfer ownership of probate assets to the named beneficiaries. If the decedent had no Last Will & Testament, probate might be necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to those receiving them under Florida’s intestacy laws. Probate may also be necessary to wind up the decedent’s financial affairs. Administration of the decedent’s estate ensures that the decedent’s creditors are paid if certain procedures are correctly followed. Our skilled probate attorneys and paralegals will guide you in navigating Florida’s complex probate system. 

Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys

Of Counsel Attorneys

Estate Planning Articles

Estate Planning FAQ's

Generally, estate planning can be an expensive venture. But the service you receive by utilizing the expertise of an estate planning attorney near you – like the experienced lawyers at Berlin Patten Ebling – can spare you from numerous costs and unanswered questions down the road. There are a number of ways to save on estate planning costs, and an experienced estate planning attorney near you in Sarasota can assist in finding the perfect solution for your needs.  

A step in cutting estate planning costs is to conduct some of the initial work yourself, like learning the basics of estate planning online or from reading resourceful books. An estate planning attorney near you can then work to create a plan tailored to your specific situation and goals.  

Another tactic for saving on estate costs is to utilize a do-it-yourself estate planning kit found online or at a local office supply store. These kits cover the basics, such as a will, power of attorney and healthcare directive.  

However, we strongly recommend exploring the capabilities of an experienced law firm and estate planning attorney near you that can offer an array of options – some of which you likely didn’t know existed.  

The general practice of estate planning is the process of organizing your finances and property in anticipation of death. Of course, this isn’t an easy subject to discuss – and something no family desires to envision. However, planning for the future alleviates any doubt about how you’ll be remembered and how your legacy will live on. Estate planning attorneys near you, like the knowledgeable experts at Berlin Patten Ebling, can handle an array of angles involving this practice area.  

An estate planning attorney near you, whether you live in Sarasota, Tampa or anywhere along the the Gulf Coast, can help create a plan that ensures your wishes are carried out and that the loved ones you leave behind are taken care of following any situation. Estate planning, as we know, can become a complex process dependent on a number of factors unique with every family. While this can be expensive, an estate planning attorney near you is undoubtedly the best person to lead you toward an astounding return on investment and peace of mind for years to come.  

At Berlin Patten Ebling, many clients inquire about the best estate planning options for their legacy and family’s future. And, in some cases, we’re asked to compare wills and trusts which serve different purposes. However, as expert estate planning attorneys near you, we recognize that both are extremely useful.  

A will is a legal document that outlines how you would like your assets to be distributed after your death. A trust is a legal arrangement in which someone holds property on behalf of another person. If you’re interested in delving into detail about wills and trusts, our estate planning attorneys near you recommend visiting the estate planning page on our website. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to create either plan – and some clients select both. 

The best way to decide what best fits your needs is to consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney near you, like our team at Berlin Patten Ebling.  

If you’re considering an estate plan in Florida, you’re likely wondering the costs associated with a roadmap that preserves your legacy. The simple answer is yes – estate planning can become expensive, but that depends on a number of factors like the size and complexity of your estate.  

Of course, after your death, costs rise significantly if you didn’t utilize the guidance of an estate planning attorney or don’t have a plan in place. Your family will likely be tied up in Florida’s probate legal process if assets are left behind, spending both valuable time and money to resolve these matters.  

To get an accurate estimate of what your estate planning will cost, we highly recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to receive an accurate estimate. As a general rule of thumb, costs can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.  

Newsletter Sign Up

Here's How It Works:

Simple Submission: Using Payload, you can send your EMD funds. The platform is designed to ensure your transaction is both secure and hassle-free.

Transparent Fee Structure: A nominal processing fee of $12.00 will be applied to your transaction. This fee is disclosed during the submission process.

Instant Confirmation: Once your transaction is completed, you’ll receive an immediate confirmation email from Payload. Our accounting team will also be promptly notified, usually within minutes of the transfer.

Specifically for EMD: Payload is exclusively for submitting your Earnest Money Deposit ONLY. It is not to be used for final closing proceeds or any other payments.

Deposit Limit: To maintain the integrity of our process, we have set a maximum deposit amount of $100,000.00 for EMD submissions.