Tampa Law Blog

The Dangers of "Do-It-Yourself" Estate Planning

With all of the resources available today online and elsewhere, many people are tempted to try to do their own estate planning. They may find online forms or software at the local office supply store. Alternatively, they might use one of these online services. But is this a smart and safe way to protect your family and yourself? The answer should be a resounding "no." 

The Dangers of "Do-It-Yourself" Estate Planning

With all of the resources available today online and elsewhere, many people are tempted to try to do their own estate planning. They may find online forms or software at the local office supply store. Alternatively, they might use one of these online services. But is this a smart and safe way to protect your family and yourself? The answer should be s resounding "no." 

Protecting Special Loved Ones With a Special Needs Trust

Many families struggle daily with the demands of caring for a family member with health or developmental challenges. Whether it is autism, Parkinson's, cerebral palsy, birth defects or some other debilitating condition, the challenges can be immense. Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects which these families face is making sure that resources are available to provide medical and other necessary benefits over the course of the family member's lifetime.

Often these families can only turn to governmental programs such as "Supplemental Security Income" or "SSI" and Medicaid to meet the overwhelming demands. For example, take the situation where a child, age 6, suffers from autism. Depending on the circumstances, the family may only be able to get medical coverage through Medicaid. The child could live many, many years and need benefits during that time. If the child lives 60 years, and the medical and other care bills for the child average $10,000 per year, then the benefits would be huge!

An executor can spend estate money, but not with impunity

Are you expecting an inheritance from a loved one who recently died? If so, you may find yourself somewhat distressed about what the executor is doing with the assets that belong to the estate.

One of the primary duties of the executor is to gather all of the assets and protect them during the estate administration process. This means opening a bank account for the estate in which to put any funds the estate owns and securing all other property. It could also mean spending some of that money and selling some assets depending on the situation.

What is a Pour-Over Will?

When person establishing a Trust (soemtimes called a "Settlor") does not take the steps necessary to fund the Trust, in most instances a probate will be necessary in order to allow the transfer or liquidation of those assets. This would apply to most assets which are titled only in the Settlor's name and which do not have a beneficiary or a POD designation.

Leaving Out the Best Part: No Residuary Clause in a Will or Trust

The provision in the Will or Trust which designates what happens to the "rest, residue and remainder" of an estate after specific devises are made is sometimes referred to as the "residuary provision" or "residuary clause."Every Will and Trust should include a residuary clause. This is the provision that acts as the "catch all" for all remaining assets or property not specifically distributed. In many estates, the residuary clause is where the bulk of the assets are devised.

What Matters Most to You?

When meeting with estate planning clients, I often start by asking a simple question: "What matters most to you?" Without fail, the answer I get most often is "My family and my loved ones." This simple question and answer goes right to the heart of what we do as estate planning lawyers. We help people plan and prepare to assist their family and loved ones in the event of illness, incapacity, or death.

Use a Lady Bird Deed Very Cautiously

A "Lady Bird Deed" (or more accurately called an "Enhanced Life-Estate Deed") is a type of deed which provides the grantor--i.e. the real estate property owner--with certain rights during life, with the remaining interest going to a named grantee at the grantor's death. The grantee under a Lady Bird Deed receives a "remainder" interest.. This means that the grantee gets title to the property upon the death of the grantor but has virtually no rights during the grantor's life. Florida is one of a list of states that recognize the use of this type of deed.

Common Estate Planning Mistake: Naming as Personal Representative a Nonresident Not Related by Blood or Marriage

When doing basic estate planning, one of the most important instruments to set up is a Last Will and Testament. This allows you to designate beneficiaries, i.e. who will receive your estate assets. The Will also designates the Personal Representative, i.e. who will be in charge of your probate estate. [Note: in some states, this person is referred to as an "Executor" or an "Administrator" but regardless of the name, they are essentially the same position.]

Is intellectual property part of your business purchase?

When buying a business, you more than likely purchase all of its assets as well, in order to avoid duplicating your efforts. In addition, you also purchase its goodwill and intellectual property. Valuing those assets is not as easy as valuing inventory, however.

This article focuses on the purchasing and valuing of intellectual property as part of a business acquisition. These intangible assets, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks, can add a significant amount of value to the business. Failing to include them in the purchase of an existing business could cause it to fail in the future since these assets are often the ones that provide the most revenue for the company.

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