David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Miami Estate Planning Blog

Trust administration can be more complex than many expect

An important part of a complete estate plan is a revocable living trust. Property in a trust may bypass probate, allowing for distribution of a Florida estate's assets much quicker than if the deceased had only a will or no plan at all. However, this implies that the trustmaker, or grantor, correctly prepared and appropriately funded the trust as well as following other important steps. It is still possible that trust administration can take as long as probate.

One factor in determining how long it will take to settle a trust is the successor trustee, the person who takes over the trust after the grantor dies. This person may live far away from the estate, or the grantor may have named numerous successors who all have different opinions about administering the trust. It is also possible that the named trustee will refuse the role, especially if the grantor did not discuss the matter with him or her previously.

Trusts can have more flexibility than some people think

Life commonly has unexpected elements, and it can be difficult to plan ahead knowing that anything is possible. Still, it is important that Florida residents try to account for their end-of-life wishes through estate planning. Fortunately, when individuals use trusts, they have options for accounting for the possibility of the unexpected.

First, it is important to appoint a trustee to a trust. This person will manage the trust and ensure that any instructions left behind by the decedent are followed. The trustmaker could also give the trustee discretion to make decisions regarding the distribution of trust assets as he or she sees fit. Of course, some people may not want to leave the entirety of control up the discretion of the trustee, and it is possible to leave specific details that limit the powers of the trustee.

Executors can prepare for probate ahead of time

Though a person in charge of an individual's remaining affairs typically does not take action until after the person's death, he or she can still prepare ahead of time. Being an executor takes a lot of work and responsibility, and having somewhat of a head start could go a long way when the time comes to step into the role. Florida probate can be a long and trying process, and preparation can be useful.

If a person knows ahead of time that he or she will act as an executor, that individual has the opportunity to prepare. First, it can be helpful to discuss various information with the testator after accepting the role. For instance, executors can benefit from knowing about the person's assets and debts. If the testator keeps an updated record of assets and debts, the executor can stay informed about important changes.

Considering guardianship over a parent

Having concerns over the well-being of a parent is difficult. For some, it could be hard to see their parents in a position of needing someone to take care of them. Still, it is important that someone in a vulnerable state has the proper care and protection, which, in some instances, could mean that a guardianship is necessary.

If Florida residents have concerns for their parents, they may be contemplating the idea of whether seeking guardianship could suit their particular circumstances. It may be important to know that more than one type of guardianship exists. For instance, guardianship of the person is when another individual is put in charge of making decisions about care or livelihood for a person who can no longer do so for him or herself. Guardianship of the property means that the person can no longer make sound decisions regarding money and that another individual has been put in charge of making those decisions.

A will may be for everyone, but it's not for everything

Most adults need a will. The will is the cornerstone of any estate plan. Perhaps you have heard this before, and you recently decided that it is time to create yours.

As you embark on this task, you may receive a plethora of advice from friends and family regarding what to put into your will. What you may not have yet heard is that some things do not belong in your will, especially if one of your estate planning goals is to make the estate administration process easier on your surviving loved ones.

Wills can help parents, pet owners make smart decisions

What happens to a person's assets after his or her death? For some people in Florida, the answer to this question is not important. However, individuals who do not take the time to create wills can ultimately put their families in difficult situations.

Most people have a general understanding of what a will is. An individual can list his or her assets and then designate who will receive what. Things like family heirlooms, cars, clothing, jewelry, photographs and more usually show up in wills. Even though retirement accounts and insurance policies are paid out to beneficiaries named on those accounts, including that same information in a will can help eliminate any confusion.

Are irrevocable trusts useful to estate planning?

Many Florida residents may not fully understand many of the options available to them when estate planning. On the other hand, some parties may have heard of certain tools but believe that they do not need them, like trusts. Really, this option could benefit anyone depending on the details of the particular estate.

Some individuals may have concerns over utilizing irrevocable trusts. These trusts, once created, cannot be changed by the person who created the trust, or the grantor. As a result, when the grantor puts assets into the irrevocable trust, he or she no longer has any control over those assets, and only the beneficiary of the trust can make or approve any changes. This may not seem appealing to some people, but it can have its benefits.

Trusts can hold life insurance payouts for minors

No one wants to think about the possibility of dying while their children are still young. Nevertheless, prudent Florida parents will set aside their emotions and figure out the most effective way to provide for the financial needs of their children, plan for their education and ensure they are well cared for if this sad event occurs. For many, including trusts in their estate plans is the most appropriate method.

Perhaps the most dangerous mistake a parent could make is to name his or her children as outright beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. Even at the age of 18, a child may not have the skills to sensibly manage a large inheritance or life insurance payout. The child may even become the victim of unscrupulous people who will take advantage of the situation. Still, it is critical to provide one's children with a means of support as far into the future as possible, and this is where trusts can be beneficial.

How to fight against an unnecessary guardianship

Many elders in Florida have adult children who help them run errands, travel to doctor appointments and handle things around the house, such as lawn maintenance or household repairs. Some aging parents also rely on their children to help them keep their finances organized. When a parent has several children, problems can arise if, as siblings, they disagree about important issues such as guardianship.

Not every adult child has his or her parent's best interests in mind. In fact, some exhibit lack of good faith in trying to gain control of parents' assets by filing petitions in court to request that they be made legal guardians. Sometimes, guardianship is needed and can help an older person who is suffering mental decline protect his or her estate.

Are you wondering whether you should become an executor?

Have a loved one asked you to serve as the executor of his or her estate? If so, you are in a position that many people in Florida and across the country find themselves. In some cases, individuals will accept this role without thinking about what the job fully entails, and that action could turn into a mistake.

If you have asked your loved one for time to consider the request, you have taken a wise route. Before agreeing to the position while thinking that the responsibilities are far off or that they will not be too involved, you may want to gain information on what being an executor entails and assess your personal capabilities.

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