Probate & Estate Planning

The attorneys at Copus & Copus, P.A. understand the importance of probate and estate planning in securing your legacy and ensuring your loved ones are taken care of.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed and debts are paid under court supervision. It involves validating the deceased person’s will (if there is one), identifying and inventorying assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Estate Planning Basics

Estate planning is the process of arranging for the management and distribution of your assets after you pass away or in the event of incapacity. It involves creating legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives to ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are protected.

Key Elements of Estate Planning


A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for minor children and specify other important instructions.


Trusts are legal arrangements that allow a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries. Trusts can help you avoid probate, provide for minor children, and protect assets from creditors.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf in financial or medical matters if you become incapacitated.

Advance Directives

Advance directives, such as living wills and healthcare proxies, allow you to specify your medical treatment preferences and designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

Why Estate Planning is Important

  • Protect your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes.
  • Minimize estate taxes and other costs.
  • Avoid probate and maintain privacy.
  • Provide for your loved ones, including minor children and dependents.
  • Plan for incapacity and ensure your healthcare wishes are honored.

At What Stage of Life Should Estate Planning Be Done?

Estate planning is a critical process that everyone should undertake, regardless of age or wealth. Here are some key milestones and life events when it is important to consider estate planning:

1.Adulting: Once you become a legal adult (usually at age 18), it’s a good time to start thinking about basic estate planning documents like a will, healthcare proxy, and power of attorney. These documents can ensure that your wishes are followed in case of incapacity or unexpected events.

2. Marriage: Getting married is a significant life event that often prompts the need for estate planning. You may want to update your beneficiaries, create joint accounts, or establish trusts to provide for your spouse and future children.

3. Buying a Home: Homeownership is a common reason to start estate planning. You may want to protect your property and ensure it passes to your loved ones according to your wishes.

4. Having Children: When you have children, it becomes crucial to establish guardianship provisions in case both parents pass away. You may also want to set up trusts to provide for your children’s financial future.

5. Health Issues: If you or a loved one experiences health issues or a decline in health, it’s important to have healthcare directives in place to outline your medical treatment preferences and designate someone to make decisions on your behalf.

6. Major Life Changes: Significant life changes such as divorce, remarriage, the death of a spouse or family member, or a substantial increase in assets are all events that should prompt a review of your estate plan.

7. Retirement: As you approach retirement age, you may want to revisit your estate plan to ensure it aligns with your current financial situation, retirement goals, and wishes for your legacy.

8. Regular Reviews: It’s also important to regularly review and update your estate plan as circumstances change. This could include changes in relationships, finances, laws, or personal preferences.

Estate planning is a process that should be started early and revisited periodically throughout different stages of life. By being proactive and creating a comprehensive estate plan, you can protect your assets, provide for your loved ones, and ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your incapacity or passing.

Get Started with Probate & Estate Planning

Many people find a sense of relief and empowerment after completing their estate planning because they know they have taken proactive steps to protect their assets and their family’s future. Additionally, estate planning can be an opportunity to reflect on one’s values, goals, and priorities, and to create a lasting legacy that aligns with those beliefs.

We’re here to help! We make every effort to make estate planning easy. Get started by setting up a consultation by either calling us at (850) 609-1433 or by sending us an email by filling out the form below.

Copus & Copus, P.A. Law Firm - Lawyers Serving Okaloosa County