Say you want to do what most estate planners in Florida want to do: leave your assets to your chosen heirs and beneficiaries with as little tax liability and probate friction as possible. Unfortunately, what happens in many cases is that unforeseen incidents in beneficiaries' lives result in the quick draining of inheritances.
It's no secret that, as people get older, they tend to become more vulnerable to scams that could threaten the assets the elderly person has worked so hard to accumulate. Undue influence is the legal term for wrongfully persuading or otherwise tricking a person into changing his or her end-of-life documents, and it is unfortunately a problem in Florida and throughout the country.
A bill recently passed by a Florida Senate committee would give unmarried couples, including gay couples, the right to register as domestic partners. In terms of estate planning, the bill, if eventually signed into law, could have a major effect on unmarried couples' decisions regarding real estate, long-term care, funeral arrangements and inheritance.
Last year, the whirlwind of debate about the fiscal cliff and possible changes to federal tax law led some estate owners in Orlando to make some quick adjustments to limit tax liability. Many people with significant assets made lifetime gifts and created trusts to avoid a possible tax hike.
Setting up a trust allows a person to retain a great deal of control over the transfer of assets to designated heirs. When setting up trusts, however, it's important that the trust maker provide some direction for how the assets will be administered. Unless an overseer for the trust is arranged, those charged with maintenance of the assets may behave in such a way as to maximize their own earnings while depleting the trust assets.
The distribution of assets to an estate's heirs is the primary purpose of estate administration. Estate planning should also include asset protection, which involves preventing these assets from being used in ways the estate's owner did not intend. Readers in Orlando will be interested in an estate dispute involving a murder conviction.
The smooth transfer of assets is the goal of any estate plan, whether the assets are to go to the estate holder's children or to a collection of preferred charities. For Orlando residents, no matter the size of the estate, some planning is needed to ensure that the desires of the asset holders are met. The larger the desired asset transition, the more planning must go into making sure that the transfer proceeds as planned. If done well, even billions of dollars in assets can be inherited without spending years in court or seeing the value of the assets drop significantly.
People are often advised to put their affairs in order to prepare for contingencies. Estate planning can ensure that a person's wishes are honored and help minimize future tax implications. When transferring assets according to an estate plan, however, it is important to keep current obligations in mind.