Florida Probate Attorney vs. Estate Planning Attorney

Long H. Duong, Esq. Estate Planning, Probate

Florida Probate Attorney vs Estate Planning AttorneyWhat’s the difference anyway?

Nope, there is no punchline here.  This isn’t a lawyer joke. But this is a pretty common question when I tell people what I do.

What is a Florida Probate Attorney?

A probate attorney guides and assists people in the administration of a persons estate.  More specifically, a Florida probate attorney is versed in the often complicated rules and statutes that control in the Florida probate process.  Probate is a court supervised process in which the personal representative of a person’s estate is administered – assets are collected, creditors are paid and the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.

What is an Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning attorney helps people to make a general or detailed plan that determines how their estate assets are administered and distributed.  Estate planning attorneys draft and prepare Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorneys, Living Wills, Pre-Need Guardianships and an assortment of other such instruments that facilitate issues we all will eventually face.

Why is the distinction important?

It’s not.  In fact, in my humble, unimportant opinion, a Florida probate attorney and an estate planning attorney should be one in the same.  An estate planning attorney who does not regularly handle probate cases may not be familiar or kept current on what is actually happening in the Florida probate courts.  In other words, it would seem to me that it’s difficult to plan an estate if you’re not sure what will happen after a client dies.  On the other hand, a Florida probate attorney who doesn’t flex his or her estate planning skills may not be spending enough time trying to help clients avoid certain elements of the probate process.  This would be a disservice to the attorney’s clients.

Word to the wise:  There are many attorneys who will draft a “simple will” for a nominal fee.  Some of those attorneys have never, ever handled a probate case and may not really know the impact they may  have when their client passes away.  In some cases, a poorly planned and drafted Last Will and Testament can do more damage than dying without a Will.  Only a Florida probate attorney can truly advise you as to what will happen to your estate after you pass.  Before letting a lawyer draft your Will, ask if he or she has ever handled a probate case.

Working on my “elevator pitch”

Now that you know the difference, what do you think of my elevator pitch? (Work in progress)

“I’m a Florida probate attorney and an estate planning attorney.  I help people plan for their golden years and help their heirs and beneficiaries navigate through the process of settling a person’s affairs after they pass on.”

Image courtesy of: TheBusyBrain

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