Estate Planning Archives

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.

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.]

What I learned from my broken crown!

I recently broke my crown. I'd worn the crown for a few years and it served me well. However, people noticed when I broke my crown because I was unhappy and had a pained look on my face. No, I'm not talking about the kind of crown that rests on your head---I wish I had one of those but it wasn't in the genes! The crown that I broke is of the 'dental" kind. When it broke, I learned a valuable lesson which can be applied to my estate planning law practice. Don't put things off!

Being of "Sound Mind" to Execute a Will

In Florida, as in most states, it has long been emphasized that the right to dispose of one's property by Will is highly valuable and it is the policy of the law to hold a Last Will and Testament good wherever possible. Not uncommonly, disgruntled beneficiaries sometimes challenge a Will on the grounds that the person who executed the Will (known as either the Testator if a man or a Testatrix if a woman) did not have testamentary capacity. In other words, they allege that the person's mental state was such that they could not validly sign a Will. 

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