Wills, Trusts and Estates

Estate planning is the process of creating legal documents that direct distribution of your property after death and protect you during your lifetime in the event of incapacity. Based in Clearwater, Florida, the law firm of John M. Sakellarides, P.A. helps clients with wills, trusts, and other documents that are important parts of a sound estate plan. The firm provides estate planning services for individuals in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and other areas nearby.

Experience and Approach

John M. Sakellarides is a Florida tax lawyer who focuses his law practice on estate planning, probate administration, and tax law. Drawing on more than 25 years of practice experience, John provides superior quality legal services and exceptional client service.

John earned his Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) degree at the University of Florida. His credentials and extensive practice experience set him apart from many other attorneys who offer estate planning services. John’s distinguished reputation in the legal profession and community is demonstrated by the fact that most of his clients come to him as the result of referrals from other clients and professionals.

In his estate planning practice, John helps clients with estates of all sizes and composition. Regardless of the nature of the estate, he provides personalized service to every client, with an emphasis on being always accessible and responsive to the client’s concerns and questions. John’s goal is to provide high-quality dependable and straightforward legal representation. He also focuses on ensuring the predictability of legal fees by offering services on a flat fee basis whenever possible.

John does not charge for the first consultation with a prospective client. A meeting may be scheduled for an in-person discussion at the firm’s Clearwater office or through a virtual platform like Zoom or FaceTime.

Wills

A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that is part of most estate plans. Your will enables you to direct the administration and distribution of your estate after you pass away.

If you die intestate (the term for dying without a will), Florida laws determine who inherits your property and administers your estate. By creating a will, you die testate, and the beneficiary designations in your will determine who receives your property. Making your own decisions about distribution of your property is far preferable to allowing the State to make those decisions for you.

In your will, you also designate the personal representative for your estate, who is the person responsible for administering your estate and carrying out your wishes. In the absence of a will designating a personal representative, Florida laws decide who administers your estate. It could be someone other than the trusted person you want to serve as your personal representative.

When a named beneficiary receives property under a will, the beneficiary receives the property outright and in full. You retain no control over how the beneficiary uses the property. If you wish to have control over property distributed after your death, it may be beneficial to include a trust in your estate plan.

Trusts

A trust is a legal relationship through which a designated trustee manages and distributes money and other assets on behalf of the person creating the trust, who is the grantor of the trust. A trust is created by execution of a legal document, which designates the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust and details the terms for management and distribution of the trust assets. It is essential to have assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney in creating a trust document and establishing a trust.

There are many different types of trusts. A living trust (or inter vivos trust) is a trust created during the grantor’s lifetime. Individuals may use a revocable living trust to avoid probate and maintain the privacy of their financial information. While property distributed under a will goes through probate and financial details become public information, a properly drafted living trust can avoid probate and keep the grantor’s financial situation private. Generally, assets and property in a living trust at the time of the grantor’s death are protected from probate and do not become public knowledge.

Other types of trusts serve particular purposes and can be either revocable or irrevocable. Supplemental needs trusts, charitable trusts, and pet trusts are examples of other kinds of trusts that may achieve specific goals in an estate plan. John M. Sakellarides has the depth of experience and breadth of knowledge to assist clients with all types of trusts. He can help you ascertain whether a trust would be beneficial for your estate plan, based on your circumstances and estate planning goals.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document in which you designate another person as your agent to manage your financial matters in the event you become incapacitated. This document is an essential part of every estate plan.

Without a durable power of attorney, your loved ones likely will have to ask a court to authorize someone to handle your finances and take care of the related personal aspects of your life. That may not be the person you would choose to have that responsibility. The unnecessary delay and cost could cause significant problems for you and your family if you become unable to make your own decisions through incapacity.

Designation of Health Care Surrogate

Under Florida law, a designation of health care surrogate is like a durable power of attorney for medical and health care decisions. If you become unable to make medical and health care decisions for yourself, the person you name as your health care surrogate makes those decisions for you. Like a durable power of attorney, the designation occurs in a legal document that must meet specific requirements under Florida law. A health care surrogate designation is an important part of every estate plan.

A living will is a separate document that may be included in an estate plan to establish your wishes regarding the use of life-prolonging medical treatment and care if you become terminally ill and unable to communicate. A living will enables you to determine the kind of medical care you wish to have under circumstances described in the document.

Schedule a Free Consultation to Talk About Florida Estate Planning

John M. Sakellarides helps you develop an estate plan to address your unique individual circumstances and concerns. His extensive experience includes assisting clients with the full range of estate planning documents, including all types of trusts.

Your initial consultation is always free of charge and without obligation. Consultations may be conducted in person or virtually through platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime. To talk with John about estate planning, please call (727) 785-1228 or use the online contact form to schedule a consultation.