Most people use wills to distribute the assets and property after death. However, sometimes a will may not have been updated to reflect changes in the person's family. In other instances, a descendant or surviving loved one may have a serious dispute with the will's instructions. States have set up a number of laws to resolve those situations. In some cases, a surviving spouse, child or grandchild may have a legal claim to property even if they were not named in a will.
People who have retired to Florida often have to make significant estate planning decisions. Those who have capital tied up in assets such as a home, IRA or business investments may feel overwhelmed when attempting to divide the estate equally among their heirs. These decisions may seem even more complicated when an heir is involved in a problematic marriage that may potentially end in divorce. Parents may also consider how well their children manage their own finances.
Recent tax increases have effected a vehicle that many Florida residents use as part of a comprehensive estate plan. The marginal 39.6 percent rate included in the 2012 tax legislation that is imposed on an individual's income in excess of $400,000 is applied to trusts at the $11,950 threshold. Furthermore, the new 3.8 percent Medicare surtax directed at net investment income of individuals earning more than $200,000 is applied to trusts at the same $11,950 level.
Florida residents with a troubled family member may be unsure of how to work out the details of their estate plan. For instance, if a child or grandchild has a drug addiction, it may not be in their best interest to leave them with a large inheritance. Likewise, leaving money or property to a family member with a gambling problem could serve to enable their addiction.
Florida residents who are estranged from their family may be interested if a deceased relative left them an inheritance. While an estrangement from a family member like a parent or sibling can happen for any number of reasons, the estrangement doesn't necessarily mean that family has been cut out of the person's will. Individuals do sometimes pass away and leave assets to family members with whom they haven't spoken in years.
People in Florida and elsewhere who are beginning to consider how their assets should be passed along after they die often wonder who to share their thoughts with. Some people may embrace in-laws and others may only wish include children and grandchildren in their estate planning.
Many Florida parents may be wondering if they should leave an inheritance to their children. Whether parents are wealthy or not, the decision is always a personal one that reflects their financial situations, family values and other factors. There is no right or wrong answer. However, several survey results reflect a similar trend; that is, parents and their children may not agree to expectations and ideas, which could cause problems in the future.
The national budget plan recently proposed by President Obama may remind estate owners in Florida that "permanence" isn't necessarily permanent. At the beginning of this year, a tax exemption for estates of $5 million or less was put in place, with legislators and the president calling the exemption "permanent." But, since there was no language in that budget plan that barred Congress from reconsidering the estate tax exemption, a new budget plan could lower (or raise) the exemption level.
Legal instruments such as trusts and wills specify the distribution of someone's personal property to the estate's beneficiaries. Trust administration is typically an orderly process when it is handled properly. The following story shows how trust administration can be greatly complicated by an administrator's alleged illegal acts.
Estate planning is a helpful legal method for specifying how personal assets will be distributed in the event of death. The actual execution of a last will and testament, however, can be hindered by complicated family dynamics or disagreements with the prearranged terms. When the benefactor's death is related to the injurious actions of a potential beneficiary, further legal evaluation may be necessary to determine who is eligible to inherit the estate.