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Miami Estate Planning Law Blog

The importance of discussing estate plans with loved ones

Unfortunately, many Florida residents are reluctant to discuss estate plans with family and friends while they are still alive. For some, it is considered a matter of privacy. In some instances, this may actually be the best option. But if the family is close and has good relationships, it can be beneficial for all parties to openly discuss the plans.

If the estate owner never brings up the issue, their adult children may actually want to start the conversation. Of course, some adult children may struggle with whether it's their place to even bring the topic up at all. At the risk of seeming greedy in discussing what mom and dad are leaving behind, children could approach it from the angle of making sure their parents have enough to live on into retirement. With the ever-rising costs of nursing and long care facilities, this is a legitimate issue that will ultimately impact everyone.

When should you establish a guardianship?

Floridian residents like you have a lot on your plate if you are involved in the potential establishment of a guardianship. The Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L., are here to help you through the process by explaining things in a way that is easy to digest.

Guardianships are a situation in which one person must look after another. You hold legal responsibility over them, and often times you are also left handling things like their financial decisions because they simply are not able to.

A trust offers different advantages than a will

If asked whether they have an estate plan in place, many Florida citizens would answer yes, they have a will, or no, they don't. While a will is a basic foundational document in any estate plan, it is not the best choice for most people. Although not the only purpose, the primary function of estate planning is to create an orderly distribution of assets from a decedent to his or her beneficiaries. A properly executed will can suffice to do so, but a living trust provides advantages a will does not.

A primary difference between the two legal documents is when they become effective. Legal experts explain that a will has no legal effect until its creator, called the testator, dies. A living trust created for the purposes of transferring assets upon the death of the creator of the trust, called the settlor, becomes effective immediately upon proper execution. Importantly, this includes the funding of the trust.

Understanding inheritance taxes

Many Florida residents may know that after they die, their estate might be subject to an estate tax. However, they may not realize that sometimes their loved ones might need to pay an inheritance tax.

According to US Tax Center, people typically pay an inheritance tax after they receive an inheritance from a deceased relative. While some people may think this is the same thing as an estate tax, this is not the case. An estate tax is based on the assets which are transferred to a different person. The person who receives the assets usually does not pay this cost; instead, the estate of the deceased pays this expense. Conversely, people generally only pay an inheritance tax if they receive something from the estate. The money for this expense normally comes from the beneficiary, not the estate.  

When should a senior stop living alone?

When you serve as your elderly parent's guardian in Florida, you usually have to help make important decisions. At some point, you may need to decide whether your parent is still capable of living alone.

There are many signs that a senior no longer able to live alone. Caring.com says that your parent may be unable to keep up with basic housekeeping tasks, such as controlling clutter or cleaning a bathroom. Your father or mother may also need to live with someone if he or she no longer goes outside to get the mail or the newspaper. Additionally, you may want to find a different living situation if your parent has difficulty getting dressed or managing a medication regiment, or if your mother or father has not recovered well after an illness.

Life insurance can fit into an estate plan

When people in Florida think about how they can protect their loved ones in the future, they may think about creating a will or developing an estate plan. In 2019, the youngest members of the baby boomer generation will turn 55, an age when many turn their attention to planning for retirement and even further ahead. However, according to one survey, as many as 42 percent of baby boomers don't even have a basic estate plan. Many others have a will or basic plan that's out of date both in terms of the law and the creator's personal relationships.

Baby boomers are the wealthiest single generation in the country's history, with as much as $30 trillion to pass down in the coming decades. However, a significant amount of that wealth could be squandered on taxes, fees and other expenses if they do not plan for how their estate will be managed in the future. Wills, trusts and powers of attorney are all critical documents for people to use when planning for the future. In addition, insurance policies and transfer-on-death accounts can be important.

What is an inter vivos trust?

Estate planning and all related matters can be a headache to handle. You have to become versed in specific terminology, understand how these terms apply to you, and know what options suit your situation best. Today, we'll take a look at a specific type of trust known as an inter vivos trust, and examine what it can do for you.

Inter vivos is the Latin word for "between the living". FindLaw states that an inter vivos trust is actually just another name for a living trust, which you may be more familiar with. Unlike a will, a living trust is created while the grantor is still alive, rather than post-mortem. Property is therefore managed by the trustee for the beneficiary while the grantor is still alive.

Establishing more than one trust

Estate planners in Florida often utilize trusts to protect wealth, save money on taxes and help their beneficiaries avoid probate court. After a person has established a trust, they can create another without revoking the first. This is one of several things that distinguishes a trust from a will.

Most wills state that the creation of the new will is intended to revoke any prior wills. If the person creating a second trust intends for it to replace a prior trust, the trust document can be drafted to say that it is a complete amendment and replacement of the first trust.

Supplement a will with other important documents

Many people in Florida feel that they have a handle on their estate planning if they make out a will and name a trusted executor. However, people may want to consider a more thorough approach to an estate plan, especially if they have significant assets or want to ease the process of transferring property to their loved ones after death. A will is an important piece of the estate planning process, but there are many more items that people can use in order to make sure that their wishes are carried out.

Some of the most important supplements to wills can be beneficiary designations and transfer-on-death or payable-on-death assets. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other items can make use of these type of designations to transfer simply and easily outside the probate process. It is also important to make sure that these designations are up to date. In some cases, people have failed to change their beneficiary designations even years after divorce or the death of the named person, leading to unexpected results. While these kinds of transfers are not a replacement for a will, they can play an important role.

Include pets in the estate plan

Many Florida residents view their pets as family. However, they may not have included their pets in a will. It is a good idea for people to include their pets in their estate plans so they are truly prepared for any situation that may arise.

You may already know who you would like to take care of your pet after you die. PetFinder.com says you should speak to this person so he or she knows your wishes. When you speak with your ideal caregiver, you should typically tell this person about the kind of care you want your pet to receive so he or she fully understands the commitment. Sometimes people may not feel they are capable of caring for your pet, so it is a good idea to have a few people in mind. Having a back-up is also a good idea in the event that someone agrees to be your pet's caregiver and then experiences a change in circumstances that will prevent him or her from caring for your pet.

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