Delray Beach Estate Law Blog

Estate planning still important for adults without children

Whether Florida residents did not have children by choice or because of the cards life handed them, they likely still have led fulfilling lives so far. However, individuals who do not have kids may wonder whether they should bother with estate planning. They may not think the process is necessary because they do not need to appoint guardians or ensure that assets are protected for their kids, but estate plans can involve much more than just those topics.

An important reason that any adult could benefit from an estate plan is that anyone could become incapacitated. Estate plans can include documents related to health care wishes and documents appointing the appropriate parties to be in charge of important decisions. If a person becomes incapacitated and has not taken the time to create these documents, close loved ones may have to petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship, which can be difficult and emotionally trying.

A 2nd marriage means revisiting estate planning

Getting married is often a fanfare occasion for many Florida residents, even if it is not for the first time. Still, a second marriage can bring many life changes, and whenever such major events occur, it is important to update estate plans. Estate planning is an ongoing process, and while updates should be made regularly anyway, doing so after a significant life change is wise.

There are unique factors to consider when estate planning after a second marriage. For instance, a person may have certain obligations to an ex-spouse due to a divorce order that need addressing in the estate plan. Additionally, parents may want to find the best ways to protect inheritances for their children from their previous relationships, but they may also want to include something for any stepchildren.

Executors must handle the fees associated with probate

When a loved one leaves behind a will as part of a Florida estate plan, that document needs validating by the court. This step is a part of the probate process, which also entails settling the decedent's final affairs. If the will designated an executor, this person has the responsibility of handling the tasks involved in the process, including taking care of the associated fees.

Probate is often necessary, but it can also be a costly process. There are a number of different fees associated with the proceedings, and though the executor must make sure the fees are paid, he or she does not have to pay them out of pocket most of the time. Instead, estate funds are used, which means that the overall value of the estate will be reduced by the number of fees covered.

To determine inheritances, requesting a will may be useful

It is common for people to wonder whether they may receive something from a recently deceased person's estate if they were particularly close to the decedent. While the executor of a Florida estate has the duty of contacting heirs and beneficiaries, it is not always easy to find those individuals. If parties believe they may have inheritances coming but have not been contacted, they may wonder how they can find out.

Usually, individuals leave behind wills that contain information on how property should be distributed after death. When a will goes through probate, it becomes part of the public record, which means that a person interested in seeing the contents of a particular will could request a copy of the document. This document may then help a person determine whether he or she is in line for an inheritance.

Asset distribution a touchy part of estate administration

Asset distribution is an important part of closing a Florida estate. However, there is a time for making such distributions, and it typically takes place at the end of the estate administration process. Of course, surviving loved ones who have had their eyes on certain items or who have been bequeathed items may try to get those assets sooner.

The executor of the estate is in charge of distributing assets to the rightful beneficiaries. This person also has an obligation to complete the steps of probate in the correct order. Early distributions of assets could result in the estate not having enough assets to cover creditor claims or taxes that the estate must address. In this type of scenario, the executor could wind up on the hook of having to cover those liabilities out of pocket.

Talking about wanted care is an important part of estate planning

When individuals begin thinking about their end-of-life wishes, they often consider how they want their property distributed. While decisions relating to this matter are certainly important, there are other aspects of life that also need consideration. For instance, a person may need someone to make medical decisions for him or her due to incapacitation. Fortunately, estate planning can help.

As part of their estate plans, Florida residents can utilize health care power of attorney documents. This type of document allows a person to appoint a trusted individual to make medical decisions in the event that the person cannot make those decisions on his or her own. Of course, it is important that the person talks about those wishes in detail with the party chosen to act as the health care agent.

Business decisions and estate planning go hand in hand

Florida business owners know that running a company comes with risks. As a result, they often plan ahead to mitigate the damage certain risks could cause in the event that things do not go well. Planning ahead is always wise to ensure that businesses will continue operating as desired if an owner is no longer able to oversee operations. Estate planning can help address this possibility and offer protections where desired.

Estate planning involves getting multiple documents in order to make specific wishes known. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other documents can play important roles in comprehensive estate plans. Parties can use these documents to appoint individuals to important roles, including guardians, executors, business successors, health care agents and others. It is also important to ensure that beneficiary designations are in order on insurance policies, bank accounts and other accounts.

Trusts can act as vital parts of estate plans

Having the right information at the right time can make a considerable difference in many scenarios. In particular, after the passing of a loved one, having information on how that person wanted his or her final affairs settled is vital. Therefore, Florida residents will certainly want to take the time to create their estate plans and consider trusts to ensure that property is divided as desired.

Trusts can be especially useful planning tools because they keep assets out of probate. This means that assets that have been titled or otherwise funded to the trust can be passed on to beneficiaries more quickly. This benefit may be useful in the event that a person has minor children and their guardian needs access to funds for their care as soon as possible.

Estate planning can prevent loved ones from feeling lost

No one wants to end up in a situation feeling lost about how to handle a certain predicament. However, if a loved one dies without having done any estate planning, it would be easy for surviving Florida family members to have no idea about how to settle the estate. Certainly, state laws would come into play, but even those laws could make family members feel unsettled.

Rather than leaving loved ones in the dark or left to sift through the remaining affairs of an estate without direction, parties may instead want to make their wishes known. Estate planning can help people explain their wishes and give surviving family instruction on how to settle the estate. However, according to recent surveys, only four out of 10 adults have even made their wills. This means that a number of families have no instruction to go on in the event that a sudden, fatal event occurs.

Estate planning can mean creating a will and more

Many Florida residents understand that having the right information can make a considerable difference in many situations. However, it is common for individuals to make the substantial mistake of not providing their loved ones with information on how to handle their final affairs. Estate planning could easily allow parties to instruct their family members on how to settle their estates.

It is also common for people to consider creating a will as the only aspect in the estate planning process. That is not necessarily the case, but parties can certainly choose to create only a will, which could provide various information such as declaring heirs and appointing executors. Of course, adding more documents to provide loved ones with instruction on other aspects of the estate could prove useful.

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