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Delray Beach Estate Law Blog

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.

Executors need to have the time to properly complete probate

Before taking on an important position, most people will determine whether they are well suited for the role. For some reason, this does not always take place when a person is asked to become the executor of an estate. In many cases, Florida residents will agree to take on this role without fully knowing what it entails. Before taking that route, individuals may want to consider their abilities and willingness to go through the probate process.

Because probate can take a long time and executors will essentially have another job on top of their regular life responsibilities, it is important to determine whether they will actually have the time to properly complete the process. The executor will need to have the decedent's will validated, gather and protect assets, pay outstanding debts, and distribute assets once the legal proceedings are over. While these tasks may seem simple, they can quickly become complicated.

Some executors may have to sell real estate during probate

When agreeing to act as the executor of an estate, many Florida residents may not know exactly what they are getting into. The overall probate process can be complicated for anyone, and some estates may have assets that make settling affairs even more difficult, like houses that need to be sold. Handling real estate when closing an estate can be a complex aspect of this process.

One of the first steps that an executor needs to take is to determine what needs to be done with the property. Hopefully, the decedent will have left a will or other estate planning document that indicates whether the home should be passed on to a specific heir or whether it should be sold. In the event that it needs to be sold, the executor will need to oversee the real estate transaction.

Putting off estate planning is not a wise step

Florida residents and people across the country often put off important tasks because they believe they can complete them later or that they are not necessary to complete. Commonly, this belief can stem from the fact that many individuals have the wrong information regarding important life steps, such as estate planning. Too many people continue to believe that they do not need estate plans or that they can get away with putting minimal effort into planning, and that can cause problems.

Thinking that one does not need an estate plan is a major mistake. Nearly every adult can benefit from having a plan, but many individuals think that a plan is only necessary if they have a substantial amount of money or other assets that will need distributing after their deaths. However, estate plans go far beyond simply addressing asset distribution, which is why it is important that parties have the right information regarding the various uses of estate plans.

Many surviving loved ones have questions about probate

It is normal for many questions to arise after a loved one's death. However, it is often better to obtain answers to those questions before the person's passing, especially because the person may be the best one to provide those answers. Of course, that is not always possible, but it does not mean that Florida residents cannot obtain the answers they need regarding probate questions.

Many people may wonder what probate is as a whole. In general terms, probate is the process needed to validate a person's will and to then follow the instructions in that will to close the estate. Wills typically focus on bequeathing specific assets to specific people, but the probate process does not start or end there. In fact, there are a number of other tasks that are handled during this process.

DIY estate planning may not be better than not planning at all

Some Florida residents may believe that they can complete any task without spending money on professional help. While this DIY approach may work in many situations, it is not always wise when it comes to estate planning. An estate plan can be effective at providing instruction for family members when they need it most, but if it is not created correctly, it may only cause complications.

Certainly, there are many DIY options available for creating wills and other estate planning documents, but they are limited in the information they provide. For instance, these sites typically do not guide individuals through the documents that would most suit their planning needs. Instead, they tend to assume that the parties already know what documents they want to use. As a result, it is easy to miss out on beneficial planning tools.

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