When you are coming to terms with your parents' mortality, getting their estate affairs in order and protecting them from financial abuse are priorities. However, you and other Florida residents with aging parents may also be concerned about their emotional and physical well-being. For many, the challenges during the golden years can lead to depression and isolation. You and your relatives may play a vital role in helping your parents age with dignity and continue to feel useful and important to the family.
One of the main responsibilities that comes with administering an estate in Miami is answering any claims made against it. This can include action taken by creditors to try and collect debts, or it may be legal action initiated by a decedent's former associates. Upon one's death, his or her personal representative takes control of his or her affairs as he or she stipulated. Thus, any contracts or agreements one entered into while alive must be now recognized and enforced (or, in certain cases, challenged) by his or her estate.
If you are a Florida resident who has not yet made a will, you probably will be shocked to discover that the state of Florida has made one for you – sort of. The Florida Bar explains that if you die without having made a will, you are considered to have died intestate and your probate assets will be distributed according to Florida law.
Like other Miami residents, you only want the best for your loved ones. This includes preserving family harmony after you have passed on. It is only natural to hope the future generations of your family will get along and be close long after you are gone.
As the probate process begins for the estate of your loved one in Miami, you will likely immediately learn of the importance of a personal representative. A personal representative is the one appointed (either by your loved one in his or her will, the court, or your own nomination) to oversee the administration of the estate. Yet a personal representative's authority is not automatic; it must first be granted by the court through the issuance of letters of administration. As that process is taking place, you may question who is managing your loved one's estate.
It is likely well known among most in Miami that the effects of advancing age can often leave people with a diminished mental capacity. It is at this time that they rely heavily in others (such as spouses, family members or caretakers) for their daily needs. While such service is often valued by other family members and friends who may not have the time to offer it themselves, the motives of those who provided it is often questioned if it appears that the recipients treated them favorably in their wills. Accusations of caregivers exercising undue influence over those nearing the end of their lives may be common in such situations.
In a perfect world, Miami residents would see to their estate planning early on in life so that their family members and friends are not left scrambling to handle their affairs once they are gone. However, oftentimes people (especially younger adults) do not have the knowledge needed to effectively prepare their estate planning instruments, and little time to dedicate to acquiring it. Thus, it is something that often gets put off until tomorrow. Yet in the event that tomorrow does not come with them, their immediate may left to deal with not only their estate affairs, but also the aftermath of what may have caused their untimely deaths.
Estate administration can often become a contentious affair, even when Miami residents have done their due diligence in preparing wills prior to their deaths. Particularly in cases involving a high volume of assets, those who believe that they may have an interest in an estate may contest documents and ask that rulings be revisited at seemingly every turn, thus prolonging the administration process for years. Such long, drawn-out legal battles can take a heavy toll on an estate’s assets.
One vital function of those who have been asked to assist in the administration of an estate in Miami is resolving all claims both for and against a decedent. The outcome of such claims could potentially have a significant impact on the overall value of the estate. Thus, beneficiaries, creditors and other interested parties to an estate likely want to see such actions resolved given the impact that it may have on their own personal interests. This may be true despite however seemingly odd (or even distasteful) a claim may be.
You may hear from several people in Miami that one of the main reasons why you should not put off your estate planning is to avoid probate. Probate avoidance strategies have been detailed in previous posts on this blog, yet one question you may want to first ask is whether or not an estate that you are party to even needs to be probated. If you have been named as the executor of an estate, you will especially want to know this before becoming consumed with worry about having to go through probate.