Delray Beach Estate Law Blog

Thinking about loved ones when estate planning

When the idea of creating an estate plan comes to many people's mind, they may immediately think of the less-pleasant aspects. For instance, they may think about the fact that they will die or that they will leave their loved ones behind or any number of similar issues that could cause them to put off estate planning. However, if they focus on the benefits instead, they may be able to create useful plans.

Thinking about the loved ones they will leave behind can be a positive aspect of estate planning for Florida residents. They can focus on the fact that creating a plan can give them the opportunity to name guardians for any minor children they have to ensure that they are well taken care of. Additionally, they can make their wishes known to prevent their older loved ones from having to make difficult decisions.

Handling probate after a parent's passing can be challenging

Even if a parent created an estate plan, closing his or her Florida estate can be a complicated affair. The executor will need to find those documents, go over the instructions, file the proper paperwork with the court and carry out a number of other important tasks. It can be overwhelming at times, but completing probate is a necessary task.

Hopefully, the parent will have discussed his or her estate plans ahead of time, and close family will know who is supposed to be in charge. In a best-case scenario, the executor would also know where to find the will and other important documents without much trouble. If the parent left behind funeral instructions, the family can use those instructions to make arrangements. However, the funeral typically takes place before probate begins, which means that estate funds may not be available yet to pay for the expenses. Still, documentation of who paid the expenses could allow for the person to be reimbursed during probate.

Adult children facing probate litigation over parents' estates

Almost every family has its issues. For some, the issues may be relatively minor, and for others, serious disagreements could place them on bad terms. In some cases, if surviving family members argue over aspects of a deceased loved one's estate, there is a chance for probate litigation to take place.

Florida residents may be interested in such a dispute taking place out of state. Apparently, a murder-suicide has left five adult children in the position of handling their parents' remaining estate. However, three of the five children are currently involved in a dispute over the size of the estate, whether their mother and father had separate estates, what the decendents' wills say, and other details. One daughter has taken legal action and obtained a court order to prevent her brother and sister from conducting an estate sale at their parents' home.

Inheritances and bequests are received near the end of probate

Probate is the legal process of settling the final affairs of a deceased individual. While distributing inheritances and bequests is part of that process, it is not the most important part. While heirs and beneficiaries may feel that it is, asset distribution actually comes near the end of the entire process.

Florida executors have to take many steps to ensure that estates are closed properly. If an error occurs, an executor could hold personal responsibility for any financial obligations that result from that error. As a result, it is important that these individuals inventory the assets, obtain values for those assets and determine whether the estate has enough funds to cover remaining taxes, bills and other financial matters. If there are not enough funds, the creditors will be paid by order of priority.

Probate litigation could result if executors do not handle duties

Many families have their fair share of disputes. In some cases, those disputes can be even more difficult to handle when they relate to distributing a deceased loved one's assets. Even with instructions left behind that relate to how the distribution should occur, problems could arise that lead to probate litigation.

In some cases, the issues that Florida residents face could relate to how the executor is handling his or her duties. For instance, if an estate is split evenly between surviving children, some assets may need to be sold in order for the proceeds to be split equally. However, if the executor does not sell the assets, such as a house, the heirs may wonder when they will be able to collect. Unfortunately, these delays could cause further difficulties.

Estate planning can bring more comfort than some think

Creating an estate plan has many benefits for both the person making the plans and his or her family. Of course, it is common for people to put off estate planning for various reasons, but understanding the benefits of having a plan may encourage Florida residents to get started. In particular, having an estate plan could prevent confusion and conflict.

In doing so, being clear with one's intentions is important. This clarity can go a long way in explaining why certain decisions were made. In particular, if a person chooses to leave more of the estate to one individual and less to another, explaining the reason behind that decision may make it easier for surviving loved ones to understand. Utilizing a planning tool like a personal statement could give individuals the opportunity to explain their wishes to prevent conflict.

Beneficiaries are important to the probate process

Many Florida residents want to take something from a recently deceased loved one's estate. However, according to law, individuals cannot just take what they want after a person's passing. Even if a person is named as a beneficiary, he or she may need to wait until property distribution takes place as part of the probate process.

When a person is a beneficiary, it means that an individual gave that person the ability to benefit from an account or asset. Though property distribution does typically take place as part of the probate process, if the asset is a payable or transfer on death account, the funds in the account will pass directly to the named beneficiary without needing to be probated. However, for most other property, beneficiaries will have to wait to receive their bequests.

Facing a cancer diagnosis? It may be time for estate planning

No one wants to go to the doctor for a checkup or due to feeling ill and receive a diagnosis of cancer. Unfortunately, numerous people in Florida and across the country receive such devastating news often. This type of information could cause many people to put their life affairs into perspective and may even have them considering estate planning.

Estate planning is essential for getting one's end-of-life affairs in order, and even if a person's prognosis seems relatively positive, it can still be important to have documents in place just in case. In particular, individuals may want to create health care-related documents as part of their plans. These documents can include a living will, power of attorney documents, health care proxy and HIPAA release forms. 

Executors may have questions about probate proceedings

Having questions about closing a deceased individual's estate is understandable. Many Florida residents likely have not had to handle probate proceedings until the death of a close loved one. Being put into the role of executor can have its challenges, and understanding the legal process ahead can be useful.

First, most estates have to go through probate. This process legally settles the final affairs of a deceased individual and ensures that his or her final wishes are carried out, if any were left behind. Typically, parties utilize their estate plans to detail these wishes, and wills can play major parts in probate. In fact, submitting a will to the probate court for validation is how the process begins. After the court validates the document, if such an outcome is appropriate, further steps can be taken.

Estate administration dispute involves Chris Cornell's daughter

Handling the final affairs of a Florida resident's estate is not an easy job. In fact, it is one that can span for years, especially if a person is in charge of handling the distribution of assets at certain times. Though representatives may have instructions on how to handle estate administration, claims against the estate could still result.

It was recently reported that Vicky Cornell, the widow of late musician Chris Cornell, is dealing with a dispute with the rocker's daughter, Lily Cornell Silver. According to reports, Cornell had set up a trust fund before his death with the stipulation that the funds would be used for tuition and other college costs for his daughter. Last year, Lily Cornell Silver attended her first year of college and received $42,000 for tuition costs. However, she apparently dropped out of college during the first week of her second semester.

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