Estate Planning and Probate

estate-planning-attorney-st-petersburg-fl-john-k-carterJohn K. Carter Law can help document important decisions concerning your money, real estate, other personal property, children, healthcare, and individuals who want to make decisions on your behalf and your estate’s behalf.


Trusts are special estate planning tools that can help shield a person’s estate from taxes or direct how the wealth that they leave should be used. Trusts can be beneficial to families of all financial means not just the wealthy.

For example, a parent may wish to create a spendthrift trust for their minor child so that a trustee can ensure that the money is spent on the child’s education instead of being spent irresponsibly.

Other trusts allow a person to make a gift during their lifetime that will be removed from their estate but only transfer upon their passing. For example, a charitable remainder trust can hold the house that they live in and transfer it to a designated charity.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts can also be used for private gifts. Revocable trusts generally have more flexibility while irrevocable trusts may offer greater protections or tax benefits.


While trusts can help manage a complex estate, sometimes a will is all that is needed to set out how an estate should be handled. Even if trusts are in place, a last will and testament should be used to cover any assets held or acquired outside of the trusts as well as to spell out what should happen if a trust is legally invalidated.

Lifetime Planning

Estate planning includes more than just planning for death. It is also crucial to plan for critical life events that may leave you unable to make decisions for yourself.

Living Wills

Families can be torn apart over decisions such as removing a feeding tube or ending artificial life support. A living will allows a person to clearly set out their wishes regarding life-extending procedures so that there is no question about what they would have wanted.

Powers of Attorney

Financial and healthcare durable powers of attorney give a trusted loved one authority to act on behalf of a person who has become incapacitated due to mental illness or sudden accident. When a power of attorney is in place, they have immediate authority to instruct doctors or financial institutions without needing to go to court.


probate-attorney-st-petersburg-fl-john-k-carterWhen a person passes away, their will isn’t executed automatically. An estate is distributed through a court process known as probate. How long and how complicated the process is depends on what kind of estate planning methods were used.

No Will

If a person dies without a will, their assets are distributed in accordance with state intestacy laws that divide the estate proportionally among close family members. In probate, all assets, including cash, investments, and real estate, must be valued. If the family cannot agree on who can take what assets or to hold a valuable piece of real estate jointly, non-cash assets may be sold so that the proceeds may be shared.

With a Will

Even with a will in place, there are often complications. At least part of a will will frequently be out of date and require the court to come up with a solution that’s in line with both the law and the deceased’s wishes. There may be property or assets not covered by the will that must be handled according to intestacy laws. If a will used proportional division, a full accounting of the estate will be required so that it can be properly divided. In addition, the legal paperwork for the transfer of real estate, vehicles, and investments will also need to be filed.

Probate is also the time when legal challenges to a will may be filed. Common examples include a conflict over whether a will was made with the proper mental capacity or which version of a will is the most current and legally binding version. These disputes are often determined by complex legal arguments that can be difficult for a non-lawyer to understand.

To schedule a consultation with John, call John K. Carter Law today.