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Handling multiple assets when making an estate plan

When people in Florida are thinking about how to plan for the future and support their loved ones, they should know that different types of assets are treated differently under state law. People can consider these groups of assets separately when drawing up an estate plan in order to deal with tax and legal concerns. A Florida homestead has some specific regulations attached to how it is dealt with in estate law.

In many cases, the home is owned jointly with right of survivorship and will transfer to a spouse without further action. However, if one spouse owns the home outright, he or she must bequeath it to his or her spouse. Married sole homeowners also cannot leave their spouse a life estate in the home before giving it permanently to others. This condition does not apply if both spouses have signed a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, however.

Retirement accounts are valuable items to consider when making an estate plan. IRAs, 401(k)s and similar accounts can be provided with named beneficiaries who will inherit the accounts. A spouse can "rollover" the distribution into his or her own retirement account, but other beneficiaries would have Required Minimum Distributions after receiving the inheritance, with the associated income tax liabilities. Annuities and life insurance policies also have named beneficiaries and pass outside of the probate process. On the other hand, stocks, bonds, cash and bank accounts can be freely bequeathed and generally transfer as part of the estate.

There are a number of other types of property that people may want to pass on, including other real estate investments and closely held businesses. An estate planning attorney might be able to help Florida residents consider how they want to support their loved ones in the future and draw up the documents to make that plan a reality.

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