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Melbourne Florida Estate Planning Law Blog

Top reasons to create an estate plan

Those who live in Florida and other states are encouraged to create an estate plan as it can bestow a variety of benefits. For instance, it can help a person retain greater control over his or her assets while alive but incapacitated. This is accomplished by designating a medical and financial power of attorney who can make decisions according to the incapacitated individual's prior instructions. An estate plan will also make it easier for someone to control where his or her assets go after death.

Individuals are encouraged to have a will or trust or name beneficiaries when appropriate. These documents should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they still meet the needs of the person who created them. Estate planning may involve putting assets into trusts or similar entities. This is done to provide protection against lawsuits by family members or claims from creditors. An insurance policy can also help ensure that assets are protected at all times.

Reasons estate planning is not just for the old

Items such as trusts and powers of attorney typically become associated with the old and wealthy. However, younger people have begun to realize the importance of having a reliable estate plan. People as young as 18 can create a power of attorney and health care directive, so they are ready in case they ever become unable to make their own decisions related to health and finances. 

You do not want to wait too long to create an estate plan. Here are some of the basic reasons you should look into creating a will early in life as you start hitting major milestones. 

Avoiding common mistakes in estate planning

A mistake during the estate planning process can negatively impact the economic future of family members and other loved ones in unforeseen ways. One of the most common mistakes is to list charities as part of trusts or wills. This is a mistake for many families in Florida because there are more tax-efficient ways to pass on money to charity and other recipients. Since charities don't pay most taxes, it's not necessary to use a will or trust as an instrument for giving.

Most families have a variety of savings tools they use to pass on money, including IRAs, 401(k)s, savings accounts, pensions, and real estate. When these assets are passed on to certain recipients, certain tax rules are put into effect. Assets invested in an IRA, for example, are taxed when they are passed on to children, but they aren't when given to charity.

Deceased celebrities without wills expose estates to disputes

The recent death of Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, reveals the problems that can arise when someone in Florida dies without preparing a will or placing assets in a trust. After dying of pancreatic cancer, she left an estate with a value of approximately $80 million. Her assets include the rights to some of her famous songs. Her four sons have filed court papers as interested parties in the estate that now must be processed by a probate court. Franklin reportedly had an estate lawyer, but that person has not made any comments to the media.

Another lawyer who represented her for many years on entertainment matters said that he asked her to build a trust. He said that a trust could have allowed her estate to be processed privately and more quickly than a probate court. The lawyer worried openly to the media that the estate could end up contested by the potential heirs. He said that whenever a will or trust is absent, disputes often follow.

Disable veterans gain access to Space-A travel

Thanks to a measure in the latest National Defense Authorization Act, disabled veterans will now be able to travel on any armed forces flight within the continental U.S., scheduled or unscheduled, that's operated by Air Mobility Command. The benefit applies to any veteran with a service-related, permanent disability rating of 100 percent. This legislation was introduced Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The push to expand military travel for disabled veterans started with the spouse of an Iraq veteran who was permanently disabled by a roadside IED. Because travel on commercial flights was nearly impossible for the veteran, the spouse saw a great need to expand travel benefits. These new travel provisions come at no additional price to the Department of Defense and require no new aircraft modifications.

Understanding how Bitcoin fits into estate planning

In 2018, Florida investors who participate in the world of cryptocurrency trading are holding tight for what could be the next major Bitcoin rally. The market corrections experienced this year could pave the way for a gradual recovery as digital currencies continue to mature and become more mainstream.

As the situation currently stands with a Bitcoin being worth nearly $7,000, it is reasonable to treat these digital tokens as valuable assets that should be part of estate planning strategies. The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act was enacted in 2016 for the purpose of determining how probate courts and executors should handle digital assets, which include more than just cryptocurrencies.

Legal documents you should sign if your child is going to college

Sending your kid off to college is a monumental time. It is a huge change for both you and your child who is now an adult. There are a lot of things to take care of–packing up clothes, moving and, of course, crying. However, amidst all the chaos, you should not forget to take care of some legal matters.

Now that your son or daughter is 18 years old and moving out, you cannot make legal choices for him or her. Not having this ability can be stressful when your child is away from you. Without the written consent from your child, you will not be able to make decisions regarding medical treatment or finances. This can be troublesome if your child gets into an accident and becomes incapacitated. Here are the documents you and your child must sign to ensure you have peace of mind.

Estate planning for parents with children

While most Florida residents understand that it's important to create a will and handle other estate planning activities, many delay taking action. However, the urge to be prepared often arises when estate owners have children. If both parents' lives were to end suddenly or unexpectedly, the child will need to be cared for. Estate planning offers many tools that can be helpful in this goal. Furthermore, the process can actually be accessible for families of all means.

There are a number of ways in which developing an estate plan can help parents provide for their children. Obviously, wills can help parents lay out how their assets will be allocated. In addition, trusts can help parents pass on wealth to minor children while ensuring that they will be protected for years to come. In a will, parents can also name a suggested guardian should they both pass away, a designation that will need to be confirmed by the courts.

Alzheimer's planning can be key for the future

While many people in Florida think of estate planning to cover the distribution of their assets after they pass away, this kind of planning process can be just as vital to address incapacity during a person's lifetime. In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer's disease every 65 seconds, and there are 5.7 million Americans with Alzheimer's, a number that is on the rise. Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease to treat, with a lifetime cost of care that tops $341,000.

While Medicare and Medicaid may cover some percentage of the costs of treating Alzheimer's, individuals and families will likely have to carry the vast majority of the associated costs. Because of this, the disease can be devastating to financial well-being and savings for the future. Therefore, it can be important to plan for the future potential for Alzheimer's before the disease enters a family's lives. This underlines the need for accurate, up-to-date traditional estate planning documents, including wills and powers of attorney. Once the disease develops, the creator may not be deemed competent to make additional changes.

Complicated modern families top threat to estate plans

Complicated modern families cause the most estate planning problems in Florida and elsewhere, according to a poll by TD Wealth. The survey, which involved 109 accountants, attorneys and trust officers, was conducted at the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando in January.

TD Wealth found that 44 percent of the survey's respondents said that family conflicts were the top reason for estate planning problems. This was attributed to the rise of blended families, which often include several former spouses, children from multiple marriages and spouses with large age differences. Unrealistic expectations and lack of communication were also frequent causes of tension. For example, many heirs expect to inherit over $100,000, but they typically end up receiving less than that. Meanwhile, nearly 70 percent of heirs have not been told how much money they will inherit.

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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