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Melbourne Florida Estate Planning Law Blog

How to choose an IRA benificiary

An IRA can be a very valuable investment vehicle for retirement, but many people in Florida make the mistake of not having a beneficiary named. When no beneficiary is listed, the funds from an IRA go directly into the person's estate upon death, and this can complicate things for family members who should be able to benefit. Not only does it make who gets the money confusing, but it can significantly increase the tax liability.

There are several important questions a person can ask when deciding who name as their beneficiary for their IRA. The first is whether or not they intend to keep the money within their family. Unlike a 401(k) spouses are not required to name their partners as their beneficiaries, but the custodians of some IRAs will require a written waiver from a spouse if the IRA owner wishes to appoint someone else.

Recent changes to VA pension benefits

Pension benefits from the Veterans Administration provide necessary funds for the heroes of our country. Unfortunately, there are often changes to the requirements that make it difficult for veterans to obtain the benefits they need. In fact, there are new rules as of 2018 that impact Aid and Attendance benefits. 

You or your loved one may be afraid of not being eligible for supplemental income from the VA. Here are some facts you should know about the new eligibility requirements in place. 

The truth about estate planning

It is critical for Florida residents and others to have an estate plan regardless of how old they are or how much money they have. Many people believe that estate planning is only something that they have to do if they have a high net worth. However, the truth is that anyone who owns property can benefit from having a plan that determines what happens to those assets after passing.

Key assets that may be transferred to beneficiaries include bank accounts, investment accounts and homes. Cars and other assets may also be handed down to family members through a will or trust. While many assets can be distributed through a will, it is not the only way to transfer property. A beneficiary designation can generally be attached to a retirement or bank account. Such as designation trumps any language in a will, so it is important to review those designations regularly.

Wills and benefits

Many Florida residents mistakenly believe their estate plan is complete once they execute a last will and testament. After all, they met with their attorney on one or more occasions and made sure their will contains the necessary provisions and the proper beneficiaries. What they may not realize, however, is that a will does not control the distribution of certain assets when a person dies. This is especially true for an estate containing company benefits.

What often happens is that a new employee is asked by Human Resources to complete a stack of paperwork, which the employee may or not remember in later years. On forms pertaining to employee benefits, the employee is asked to name beneficiaries. The normal course of action for a married person with children would be to name the employee's spouse as the primary beneficiary and the employee's children as secondary or contingent beneficiaries.

Reviewing your estate plan

Many people living in Florida have outdated estate plans. This means that while they may have a plan in place, it could be missing components or its documents might contain information that is no longer relevant or appropriate. Unfortunately, these estate plans are often inadequate to ensuring that an individual's last wishes will be honored after death.

There are several reasons why people have outdated estate plans. In some cases, individuals are simply unaware of the need to review wills, end-of-life documents and beneficiary forms on a regular basis. Another issue is that many people are uncomfortable around the very idea of death or the possibility of becoming disabled. This ultimately prevents them from making decisions about medical care and other issues.

Estate planning for collectors

Many people living in Florida understand the importance of estate planning. These individuals work with their attorneys to write wills, ensure that their retirement plan beneficiaries are up to date and have discussed their end-of-life wishes and documents with family members and physicians. One aspect of planning that may be overlooked, however, is what happens to personal property, such as art collections or other valuables.

Interestingly, many attorneys have noted that personal possessions can create significant conflicts in the settling of an estate. There are several reasons why this is the case. The first is relatively straightforward. Objects may have sentimental or personal significance to beneficiaries. As a result, if the deceased did not specify what should happen to a particular item, family members may squabble over it.

Why everyone needs a living will

When you hear about estate planning, you may assume it is only for old and/or wealthy people. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Every adult should create an estate plan – especially a living will. A living will is a document you should have whether you are 18 or 80.

That said, a lot of people do not really know what a living will is. It may sound similar to an ordinary will, but it is a drastically different aspect of estate planning. Here is what you should know about this essential estate planning document.

There is a lot to learn from Lee Radziwill's estate plan

Those who live or own property in Florida may be able to learn a lot from the estate plan of Lee Radziwill. Her plan had both a will and a series of trusts to make it easy to pass property to future generations. The latest copy of her will was created in 2018, and the latest version of her revocable trust was created in 2017. This likely means that they were updated at various points in her life.

Updating an estate plan over time is important because estate planning should be seen as a long-term process. Although most people may not be inclined to review a will or other documents after creating them, this is rarely a good idea. Over time, changes to tax laws or other events could make the original plan lacking or totally obsolete. Those who have a trust may want to continually review it to ensure that it meets the family's intent.

Estate planning tips for kids with special needs

Estate planning is important for Florida residents. It can take on an even more significant role if a person has a special needs child to take care of. Parents should look into what types of benefits a child may entitled to and the level of care that he or she will need both now and into the future.

A discretionary trust may be ideal for parents who can pay for their child's care without the need for government assistance. With this type of a trust, money inside of it can be distributed to the child whenever it is needed. Those who will need help to pay for care will usually create a special needs trust. When drafted properly, it allows for that child to receive both assets from the trust and assistance from the government.

These are the estate planning issues to watch for

Concerns about the stock market and tax reform are among the estate planning issues Florida residents could be worried about. However, family infighting is the top issue that respondents to a TD Wealth survey cited when it comes to estate planning. This is likely because individuals failed to communicate their plan to others in their family or because they were part of a blended family.

The naming of beneficiaries was cited as the most common source of conflict in a family as it related to estate planning. Ideally, individuals will have conversations with their entire families in an effort to promote transparency and open lines of communication. This can be especially important when families go through difficult events. While market volatility may be concerning to some, it is important to note that a long-term plan will take short-term fluctuations into account.

Consult Our Florida Lawyer for Veterans Aid & Attendance

Feel free to contact us and schedule an initial consultation where we can review your circumstances in an intimate setting and discuss how our Brevard County Elder lawyer can help you. Simply call Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A., locally at 321-426-1848 or toll free at 800-495-9153. We look forward to meeting you.

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