David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Miami Estate Planning Blog

Wills are important to estate plans, but different types exist

Each person's estate plan is different. All Florida residents have specific concerns and issues to consider, which can impact the type of planning tools they use. Though most people want to use wills as part of their plans, they may not fully understand the functions of this document or the types available.

A will is an important part of any estate plan because it has specific uses. For example, individuals can use this document to appoint the executor of their estate and name a guardian for any minor children who may need care in the event of their parents' passing. It is common for people to create a simple will in which they express their individual wishes for handling their remaining estate.

Not all trustees are trustworthy

When your loved one passed away, you may have anticipated receiving an inheritance. True to your expectations, your family member did bequeath assets to you. However, rather than having them pass directly on to you, he or she placed the assets in a trust. As a result, the appointed trustee has control over the assets, which he or she should manage in accordance with your loved one's wishes.

Because your loved one used the trust to leave assets to you, you are a beneficiary. Though you cannot access the assets any time you like, you still have rights when it comes to knowing information about the trust.

Wills may not be valid after relocating to Florida

For many people, retiring to Florida is a goal and one that takes many years of planning to achieve. It stands to reason that some who relocate to Florida will already have other plans in place as well, such as their wills and other components of an estate plan. While many wills do transfer validly to Florida, there are some reasons why one's will may not stand in the Sunshine State.

A Florida transplant may have a written will that complies with the laws of his or her former state, such as having a certain number of witnesses. In many cases, Florida will accept that will as valid even if the requirements of the previous state are different from those of Florida. However, certain elements of the will may become void once someone moves to Florida. A personal representative who is not a blood relative or related by marriage may be acceptable in other states, but Florida probate courts will not honor that designation unless the specified representative is a Florida resident.

Tom Petty's heirs agree on estate administration

Handling the affairs of a loved one who has died can be time-consuming and frustrating. Florida families may feel many emotions and not know where to begin when the time comes to deal with a departed loved one's assets. However, estate administration for a celebrity may have added complexities.

Rock legend Tom Petty died suddenly in Oct. 2017. Since then, his surviving family members have been in dispute about which of them should handle the administration of his substantial estate. Petty's more than 40 years in the entertainment business resulted in an estate that includes song royalties, intellectual property and the potential for future income from unreleased recordings and compilations. Petty also supported a variety of charitable causes.

Problems with wills and estate plans can show up too late

For various reasons, many people avoid the process of estate planning. This is often because people don't think they need to make these choices now because they are young, healthy or not wealthy enough to necessitate this process. Others in Florida may assume they don't need wills and other estate planning tools because their loved ones know what they want to happen to their estate and assets. These are all erroneous assumptions, and they can all lead to problems in the future.

When a person dies without a will, state laws will determine what will happen to that person's estate. This may mean that a spouse or children may not get as much as expected or intended. Thankfully, a few simple planning steps can solve this problem and make it easier for a person to have security regarding what will happen to money, property and other types of assets. 

Traveling this holiday? Even millennials can use an estate plan

For many, the holidays mean traveling, whether to reconnect with family or to find some new adventure. Traveling at any time of the year can be risky, no matter where one may be going in or beyond Florida. Even if those in their 20s and 30s are conscious of the dangers of traveling, they may not consider executing wills when they set out on their journeys. However, estate planning is not restricted to those who are near retirement or with many assets.

Having an estate plan is critical for those who have children since they can leave instructions for the care of their young ones and provide for their futures. Even those with no children and limited assets can benefit from creating a plan. For example, with an estate plan, one can designate a power of attorney to handle any financial, legal or health matters in the event an injury or illness leaves him or her incapacitated.

There are limits to what you can do with your will

Making plans for the future can be difficult, especially when it requires that you consider things such as what will happen to your property after you pass. When drafting a will, you want to make sure that you clearly state what you want to happen to your assets and property. Having a will is the foundation of any estate plan, but there are limits to what this document can do. 

You may not be able to accomplish all of your estate planning goals with just a will. There are certain things that may be more beneficial for your situation and objectives, such as establishing a trust. It may be helpful to learn more about what you can get done with a will and what else you may want to do for the full amount of protection and security you need.

Trusts are an important component of an estate plan

Florida has a large population of older Americans, which should come as a surprise to no one. As they enjoy their golden years in the sunshine state, spending a little time considering the status of their estate plans could be time well spent. A plan does not need to be complex to be effective but there are some basic documents a person should be familiar with in order to be able to formulate a plan to meet his or her needs. These documents include wills, trusts, power of attorney designations and medical directives.

While a will is the document that everyone thinks of in connection with estate planning, the others can further help to ensure that one's final wishes are carried out as intended. A durable power of attorney is one of the most important. It allows the designation of one person who can be responsible for one's legal and financial affairs in the event that a person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. A medical proxy or health care directive also assists in the event of incapacitation as it authorizes a person to make medical decisions regarding a person's care in accordance with that person's wishes.

Trusts are versatile estate planning tools

It is not unusual for Florida residents to postpone doing important things, such as changing the oil in their cars or getting a regular medical checkup. Another important task many put off is creating an estate plan. One reason for the delay is that they do not understand the importance or benefits of an estate plan, especially revocable trusts. While wills are easy to make, trusts can be essential for those who have particular goals in mind for their plans.

Anyone who has lost a loved one may remember the long, frustrating probate process that kept them from obtaining the assets they were meant to inherit. Trusts are helpful for avoiding that process, keeping the contents of one's estate private and saving the cost of probate. In addition, a trust can be a useful tool for minimizing the tax ramifications one's heirs may face after receiving an inheritance. Since the trust essentially owns the assets funded to it, the tax burden on those assets is reduced.

Choosing a guardian involves practical and personal matters

Parents creating estate plans have many difficult choices to make. Perhaps the most challenging is choosing someone to be the guardian of their children in the tragic event of the death of the parents. For some, it is too difficult to think about, and they put it off, which could leave the courts to make the choice should the unthinkable occur. For those taking the bold step of selecting a guardian, there are a number of factors to consider.

A parent considering the perfect guardian for his or her children must keep practical matters in mind. For example, choosing someone who lives far away may require the children to leave their schools and everything familiar to move in with the guardian. On the other hand, it may be unreasonable to expect the guardian to leave his or her life behind and move to a new home in Florida. Even if the potential guardian lives nearby, parents must weigh his or her age, financial stability and other obligations.

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