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Miami Estate Planning Law Blog

How to account for incapacity in your estate plan

Everyone's estate plan should account for things that are uncertain. The future is unknown, and this is why estate plans are so important to utilize. By having a contingency plan, you will be able to account for every scenario and ensure that your assets can be distributed in the best possible way.

Incapacity is always a possibility in everyone's life. It may be the case that at some point in your life you become ill to the point of not being able to make decisions regarding your business, your health or your assets. In this case, you will need a person to take control of your estate so that you can continue to be provided for. The following are some ways that you can plan for this eventuality.

Getting started with a will

You've never written a will, but one of your adult children recently suggested that you do it. They have children of their own -- your grandchildren -- and they just made an estate plan. They decided they should talk to you about doing your own estate planning.

You agree with them, and you want to get started. But what do you need to know? Here are a few key things to consider:

  • You can start by choosing an executor. After you pass away, this person executes your estate plan by reading the will, distributing your assets, taking care of debts and much more.
  • You can then choose beneficiaries. These are just the people who get your assets. It can be simple: Leave everything to your children. It can be more complex, with trusts or funds to leave money to charity. It's up to you.
  • The more specific you get, the better. A nonspecific will -- such as just saying everything should get split 50/50 between your two children -- can lead to disputes. What if they both want the same asset, like a painting or the family home, and can't split it? When you're more specific, you can dictate exactly what you want and prevent these types of issues for your heirs.

Does a will override a life insurance beneficiary?

Say you bought a life insurance policy 10 years ago. You named one of your children as the beneficiary because the other child was still a minor. You just needed to list someone, and that seemed easiest to you.

Now your other child is no longer a minor. You're writing a will. You decide to note in the will that both children should actually split up the life insurance policy. Will that work?

What are spendthrift trusts?

Trusts are a tool many individuals, known as testators, use to protect the value of their assets and for passing money and other valuable items onto their heirs. Most testators set up trusts to ensure that their assets are protected from ending up in the hands of their creditors. There are many different types of trusts. Spendthrift ones are unique in that they keep money safe from both creditors and heirs.

Spendthrift trusts are accounts that are administered by a trustee. That individual or entity manages the trust. Their responsibilities include making disbursements from it. They're set up much the same as any other trust would be. The only difference is that the provisions in the administration documents spell out that this is a spendthrift trust and not some other type.

Not every type of will is valid here in Florida

Although last wills and testaments are spoken about in a general way when they're discussed in the media, the requirements that a testator must adhere to when drafting this legal document vary by state. Florida is no different in this respect.

Testators, or the individuals who draft wills, must be at least 18-years-old at the time this legal document is written for it to be upheld in a court of law.

'Knives Out' holds lessons on estate planning

You can be forgiven if you don't particularly find wills and estates that compelling -- but the 2019 sneaker-hit "Knives Out" may make you change your mind.

Estate planning and wills don't make it into the movies that much. Most of the time, when it's important to the plot, there's a "reading of the will" (something that doesn't usually happen in real life) and that's about all you hear. This movie, however, gives a captivating (and thrilling) look into what can happen when a wealthy person dies and leaves the vast bulk of an estate to someone unexpected.

Understanding the estate tax closing letter timeline

If you have recently lost a loved one, you have likely been listed as an heir to their estate. Many heirs assume that the process of receiving their inheritance will be relatively smooth, however, this is not always the case. There are many administrative aspects to the processing of an estate that must take place before heirs can gain their inheritance.

Many estates must file a federal estate tax return. When this is the case, it's common for the estate to be frozen until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has taken the time to examine and process the tax return. If you are waiting for this process to be completed, it may be helpful for you to understand the typical timeline.

Estate of Miami Beach musician files claim against bandmates

Whether it's expected or it's not, even when people have made their peace with someone passing away, a death is very difficult to manage emotionally. Sometimes, the bequests of a deceased person to their loved ones and cherished causes can help ease this pain. But anger can be compounded when inheritors are not getting what they feel they should.

The widow of the frontman for a popular band recently filed suit in a federal court in Miami against the other former members of the group. She claims on behalf of his estate they are withholding royalties from the use of previously unreleased material that they recorded at his South Florida studio before his death.

A living trust becomes irrevocable after you pass away

If you create a living trust, you still have a lot of freedom. You can typically revoke the trust or make alterations as you see fit. This could include adding more assets to the trust or removing assets as you need them.

This is often attractive to those who do not want to have an irrevocable trust because they dread that loss of control over their assets. They worry about what the future holds and do not want to make any mistakes that could impact them in years to come.

Why is it important to avoid probate?

If you are beginning the process of planning your estate, you may have encountered articles and other information about probate avoidance. However, you may not be entirely sure about why it is so important to avoid probate, and how your estate will benefit from this.

There are several reasons why you may want to consider avoiding probate. By adopting some simple strategies, it can be possible to do so effectively. The following are some of the most common reasons why estate planners often want to avoid probate.

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