William A. Johnson, P.A. William A. Johnson, P.A.
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Melbourne, Florida, Trust, Estate Planning And Probate Law Blog

Melbourne, Florida: Start early for long-term care

Few people like to spend much time thinking about how they might become dependent as they age. Daily tasks, such as housekeeping, hygiene, and taking care of bodily functions are sometimes taken for granted. Aging and disability may take a toll on a person's ability to self-care at home, sometimes leading to a need for entering a nursing home. A recent news story shares information that people in Melbourne, Florida may find helpful when consulting with attorneys to plan their long-term care.

Long-term care insurance is one consideration. It will kick in and help cover the costs of in-home or nursing home care should a person become debilitated by illness. This type of private insurance can be costly, and becomes more so with age, so it is recommended to get the insurance while one is younger and healthy versus waiting until close to the time that it is needed. The cost and level of supported care varies with each policy, so it is best to compare a few different ones before choosing.

Estate planning: Having the final say about asset distribution

Any Florida resident who wants to avoid having the state make important decisions about the distribution of his or her property after death can draft estate-planning documents. That will also spare that person's loved ones the burden of complicated decision-making after his or her death. Knowing that one's estate planning is taken care of can be liberating and give peace of mind.

The first step is to review the family and financial situation and focus on drafting a will to fit that structure. Instructions for distributing property to family, organizations, friends and more can be included. Furthermore, it will be necessary to allocate management of the process to an executor, who could a trusted person or the attorney who provides guidance with the estate-planning process. The executor will be responsible settling the estate according to the terms of the will, as well as for paying any taxes or outstanding debts that are due.

Starting a blended family requires revised estate planning

When families in Florida are joined in second or third marriages, blended families are formed. Along with the excitement and adjustments to get used to the new dynamics with children of both spouses, and potential children together, estate planning is sometimes forgotten. Every blended family is different and has unique estate planning needs to address. The best place to start may be a prenuptial agreement that is probably the most effective way of protecting the children of each spouse while also defining each spouse's financial responsibilities and rights in the marriage.

Another essential part of a blended family's new life is updating the estate plans. Each spouse must take the time to update beneficiaries to make sure an ex-spouse does not receive life insurance, annuities and retirement plans that are meant for the new spouse or the children. Care is also necessary when deciding about appointing legal guardians for minor children. It might be a problem if a former spouse is left in control of a minor child's inheritance.

Long-term care planning need not be an overwhelming process

Most people in Florida have expectations and visions for their own old age. These may include matters related to how a person wants end-of-life arrangements to be made, along with plans for long-term care, a will, trusts and any other estate plans. However, the prospect of drafting all the necessary documents and keeping it updated may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, help is available.

For couples who are both still alive, it is important for each spouse to record his or her wishes individually before sitting down together to combine their estate plans in a manner that will express the personal wants of both individuals. Advisors suggest people make sure they establish long-term care plans before or when they are in their 50s. Leaving it too late may leave them too little time to save the necessary funds, or they could become uninsurable.

Housing: Is a trust a good idea to protect your home?

As you age, you know that you want to protect your assets. One of your most valuable assets is your home. Should you place your home in a trust to protect it?

There are advantages and disadvantages to putting your home in a trust. While a trust can protect your home, there are some downsides to drawing up a trust that you should know. Your attorney can help you understand more about this intricate process, but these are a few things to keep in mind.

Should advance directives form part of estate planning?

The unpredictability of life is likely what motivates people in Florida to create advanced directives. This is typically done as part of a person's estate planning. The purpose of advanced directives is to provide a way for people to document their wishes related to health care and medical treatment when they can no longer make those decisions on their own.

These are of particular importance in cases of medical emergencies or toward the end of life. There are two ways to go about creating advance directives. The first method is to draft a living will that allows a person to record personal wishes that will serve as instructions and guidance for doctors and family members when that person is unable to communicate. Handing copies of a living will to close family members and the family physician may be a good idea to ensure the wishes are executed accordingly.

What are the inheritance rights of a surviving spouse in Florida?

When a person dies, his or her spouse has certain rights to the deceased person's assets. These rights are governed by the inheritance law of the state and might override the contents of a will. In Florida, a surviving spouse who was disinherited might be entitled to a share of the property of the deceased spouse.

Ownership of property in Florida is determined by whose name is on the property title or by whose income was used to purchase an asset. The state has statutory amounts to which a surviving spouse has a claim unless that person has agreed in writing not to challenge a will that leaves him or her less than the statutory amount. A prenuptial agreement may also override the specifications of a will.

Who is responsible for debt when a Florida parent dies?

When parents pass away, their surviving children sometimes discover unpaid debts of which they were unaware. This often leaves the question of whether children in Florida are responsible for the debts of their deceased parents. The answer to this depends on the types of debts and whose name they are in -- and then there are often exceptions to any rules.

Upon a person's death, his or her estate becomes responsible for any unpaid debt. When it comes to credit card debt, only a child who was a joint holder on the account can be held responsible for payment. If a child is the named beneficiary of a retirement plan, creditors cannot touch it; however, if the beneficiary of a 401(k) or IRA is an estate, creditors may have a claim on it.

3 things to remember about moving with a will

You've always loved moving, but you settled down for a long time when your children were born. Now that they're older, you decided that it's time to move to a new home once again.

While you do love your home in your state, you've decided to move to somehere warmer. That place, Florida, was your first pick, and you now have a beautiful home awaiting your arrival.

Estate planning lawyers and succession planning for businesses

Some company owners feel comfortable with the thought that their businesses are their retirement plans and their children will take over upon their deaths. Unfortunately, too many companies in Florida end up having to close their doors because proper succession planning was not done. To make sure nothing is left unaddressed, the services of estate planning lawyers, along with other professionals may be necessary.

In family-run businesses, assumptions about who will take over when the parent dies have caused many legal battles within families in Florida. Documented estate plans and family discussions about successors are essential if the survival of the business is to be achieved. Even if it is not a family concern, failure to have succession plans in place can leave loyal employees hanging in the balance upon the owner's death.


William A. Johnson, P.A.
140 Interlachen Road, Suite B
Melbourne, FL 32940

Phone: 321-426-1865
Fax: 321-242-8417
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