Florida Legal Blog

An estate plan can lead to 'sibling divorce'

An estate plan tells the children about their parents' wishes and helps to divide up assets after death. It's a very important plan that is based around a will, but which may also contain many other documents and legal tools, like powers of attorney and irrevocable trusts.

As the estate passes through probate, it can sometimes cause what experts call a "sibling divorce." When this happens, children may get into such deep arguments and disagreements that they never talk or see each other again. This can last for decades or for life. It may be the end of that relationship entirely.

How many people didn't write a will yet?

You have been putting off writing your will. You feel like you don't need one yet. You're relatively young and healthy. You'll deal with estate planning later.

If that's how you feel, you may not be surprised to learn that around 60 percent of people in the United States are right there with you: They have not written a will or created an estate plan.

The unique estate planning issues for collectibles

For years, you’ve been building up your baseball card collection. You’ve spent a lot of money, time, energy and care creating a collection you are proud of. What will happen though with this cherished collection once you pass away?

This is a question that arises for all kinds of collectible enthusiasts. It is also a question it is critical to give careful thought to when it comes to one’s estate plan.

Why you should revise your estate plan in the new year

Believe it or not, 2019 is already upon us. As you enter into the new year, you may be thinking of making some adjustments in your life and creating new goals. This is the perfect opportunity to revisit your estate plan.

Even if you have an existing plan in place, it is vital to review it to ensure it reflects your wishes and family situation. A lot can occur in a single year, so it does not hurt to double-check that your documents are relevant to your needs and intentions. Here are some of the main reasons it is a good idea to reassess your will, trust and other documents in the new year.

Is your estate plan ancillary probate proof?

One matter that gets very little attention is ancillary probate. It is an issue that often only comes up when a deceased person's estate includes property and assets in other states. One does not need to own a multitude of estates to benefit from using the proper estate planning tools. A strong desire to prevent contention and a good eye for detail are two of the several things you will need to preserve your overall estate.

Typically, a deceased person's estate goes through one probate process. The appointed person disperses all of the person's physical and financial assets according to the estate plans or intestacy when necessary. But, if the deceased person moved around the country before setting roots in Florida, any possessions that individual has in other states must undergo the ancillary probate process.

How to help your heirs avoid inheritance disputes

Putting together a comprehensive estate plan is the best way to ensure your beneficiaries inherit property and wealth according to your current wishes. However, if you are not careful, your family may fight over the estate. Probate litigation may turn your heirs against one another as they watch their inheritances turn into legal fees.

Probate disputes are often caused by blended families, sibling rivalries and family grudges. Thankfully, you can take some proactive steps to prevent this from happening. Here are a few guidelines for preventing probate disputes:

Estate planning and same-sex marriage considerations

Since the Supreme Court's recent landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation, Florida residents in same-sex relationships may want to consider some important estate planning factors. Doing so can help couples to take advantage of some of the benefits to which they are now entitled, allowing for the easy passing of their estates to the surviving spouse.

A primary consideration for those who are living together, are in civil unions or are in domestic partnerships with their same-sex partners is whether to get married. Doing so will allow people to reap the advantages inherent in the marriage deduction, potentially saving thousands on their taxes. The marital deduction extends beyond normal tax returns, as it also applies in an unlimited basis to estate taxes. All property left to a surviving spouse is exempt from federal estate tax, even if the value exceeds the estate tax exemption amount.

Estate planning and end-of-life care

Retirees flock to Florida to get away from cold climates in their golden years, but eventually most will have to cope with a decline in health. An estate plan can be an essential part of financial planning for the elderly and address much more than who inherits assets. Financial experts recommend that estate plans address how assets will be used for long-term care. Additionally, a medical directive should be prepared that assigns someone to make health care decisions if a person becomes incapacitated.

Planning for the possibility of long-term care in the final years of life could allow a person to designate wishes like the desire for in-home care instead of nursing home care. To pay for in-home care, the estate plan could earmark assets for that purpose. Alternatively, if a person elects to accept living in a nursing home, then the cost of that service could be addressed as well.

Steps to ensure a proper will

As Florida residents may know, having a current will in place is an important part of estate planning. However, some individuals may not realize that certain tasks must be completed to ensure that a will does not cause problems for beneficiaries in the future.

Wills do not necessarily include everything that you own. For individuals who have a property owned in joint tenancy where the survivor inherits the property after the other individual dies, the surviving co-owner receives the property. This is true even if the will leaves the property to a different beneficiary. The same can be said for accounts such as insurance policies where a beneficiary has been designated.

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