Estate Planning Archives

Funding: How do you put assets or property into a Trust?

In Florida estate planning, a commonly used instrument is a "Living Trust" (also called a "Revocable Trust" or a "Revocable Living Trust"). In this blog, we will simply call it a "Trust." There are multiple benefits accomplished by establishing a Trust, including avoiding probate and controlling distribution--particularly to minors or financially irresponsible adult beneficiaries.

Five Excuses for Not Doing Estate Planning

Estate planning involves having certain documents in place to protect your loved ones and you in the event of illness, injury, incapacity or death. These may include a Will, a Trust, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will, Establishing an estate plan is not terribly difficult or time consuming but the benefits can be tremendous! A good estate plan provides both protection and peace of mind. So why do people not set up their estate plan? Here are some possible reasons:

Second Marriages: Estate Planning with Your IRA

If you own an IRA account, you will usually name a person as beneficiary to receive the IRA at the time of your death. In most instances, the beneficiary can roll the IRA over into an IRA in the beneficiary's name and also defer taxes by withdrawing the funds over time. When a beneficiary is a responsible adult and when you want that person to be able to access the full IRA account, this is a good plan. The IRA can be rolled over into an inherited IRA and the beneficiary can withdraw the funds over time, thereby reducing taxes. The person can also name a beneficiary for the IRA to go to upon his or her death. In a situation where spouses have been married for a long time and have responsible adult children together, this works well.

Do adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida?

In our estate planning practice, clients often ask whether their adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida. [this discussion is not addressing minor children--their rights can be different]. While the question is a simple one, the answer is somewhat of a "mixed bag." As with many legal questions, the answer is "it depends."

In Florida probate, when is homestead property not given homestead protection?

Article X, Section 4 of the Constitution of Florida provides protection against the claims of creditors for a person's homestead, i.e. their principal residence. In essence, if a homeowner owes money to a creditor, that creditor cannot attach or force sale of the residence in order to receive payment. The same concept applies if the owner dies owning a homestead. In other words, if a homeowner owes a creditor (such as a credit card, medical bills, etc.), when the person dies, the creditor usually cannot collect against the homestead. The homestead is exempt form the claims of creditors.

The Do-it-Yourself Disaster!

In today's era of on-line forms, office supply stores, and software, it is becoming increasingly more common for people to try to prepare their own estate planning documents. Whether it is a simple Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, a Last Will and Testament, or a Trust, there are plenty of ways that people can try to create their own estate documents. In our practice, we often see this result in an outright DISASTER!

Does my Will control who receives my life insurance benefits at my death?

Clients sometimes ask this question--often because they are confused about the relationship between their Will and their life insurance policy. After all, doesn't the Will designate a person's beneficiaries? This blog will clarify the relationship between the Will and life insurance.

Who has Priority to be Appointed as Personal Representative of an Estate in Florida?

When a person dies and a formal probate estate must be opened in Florida, the probate court will appoint a person to be in charge of the estate administration. In Florida, this person is known as a "Personal Representative." In other states, it is known as an "Executor" or "Administrator." In Florida, no one is authorized to act as Personal Representative until a probate court issues an Order appointing the Personal Representative. Simply being designated in the Will is not enough--an Order appointing the Personal Representative is required.

How do I access a deceased loved one's bank account after they're gone?

Not uncommonly, we have clients come into the office after a loved one has died and ask for some assistance. Their request is often simple...for example: "How do I access Mom's bank account now that she's gone? Her Will says I'm supposed to get it. Can I take the Will to the bank and get it transferred over to my name?" Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor Children

If parents with minor children die, a Guardian will be appointed to raise and care for the children. Parents have the right to designate who will be appointed Guardian--so long as the parents do so before they die. If they do not, then a court will make the decision.

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