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

I don't have kids or a spouse -- why do I need an estate plan?

Florida residents who are single, do not have any children and are approaching retirement might feel left out of most estate planning topics. Many of these discussions center around how to establish a legacy for adult children or how to make sure a surviving spouse is well cared for. This does not mean that a single person without children can skip out on creating an estate plan.

For an unmarried adult, having a living will and related health care power of attorney is especially important. A living will details a person's wishes regarding medical care should the individual become incapacitated, including treatments that he or she is both comfortable with and those that doctors should instructed not to perform. A power of attorney gives another individual the ability to make those decisions. This combination is essential for unmarried individuals since there might not be an obvious person that doctors can turn to for medical decisions.

Things to know about a durable financial power of attorney

With a durable financial power of attorney, you never have to worry about who will manage your finances if you're incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. Instead, the person you name as your power of attorney will step in, at the appropriate time, to handle everything until your health improves or you pass on.

Since you're giving someone the legal authority to make financial decisions on your behalf, you must carefully think about who's the right person for the job. At the very least, this person should be trustworthy, honest and reliable.

How an estate plan can benefit your family

For those who are not familiar with the process, estate planning can seem like an incredibly overwhelming task that they would rather not deal with. Others put off dealing creating an estate plan because they are uncomfortable confronting the notion of their own mortality. In some cases, Florida residents might insist they do not care how their assets are distributed after their death. While these concerns are understandable, they should not prevent anyone from creating at least a basic plan.

Estate plans are important for ensuring that a person's wishes are respected and carried out. However, there is also another important application -- easing the grieving process for surviving family members. When a person passes away without so much as a will, everything falls on their family to deal with.

Karl Lagerfeld, Oprah Winfrey included pets in estate plan

Most Florida pet owners adore their furry, four-legged animals. Many see their beloved pets as more than just an animal, though, and instead treat them like just another member of the family. Despite this, pets are often entirely left out of the estate planning process. Here is how a few notable celebrities included their pets in their estate plan.

Famed fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld recently passed away. However, before his death he made sure that his 7-year-old cat Choupette would be well cared for. In a 2018 magazine interview, Lagerfeld discussed his plans to leave a sizable portion of his fortune to Choupette. It is currently believed that the cat will inherit around $300 million.

Are living trusts right for you?

Many people in Florida feel as if creating a will is sufficient for their estate planning needs. However, in most cases a more comprehensive approach to estate planning is best. Incorporating things like living wills, powers of attorney and trusts can help achieve the best possible protection and benefits possible. Living trusts are particularly popular in this regard.

At its most basic, a trust holds a certain asset or property that is managed by a person other than its creator -- the trustee -- for the benefit of its intended recipient -- the beneficiary. A living trust is simply one that is created during the grantor's lifetime. Conversely, an inter vivos trust is one that is created after the grantor's death. Most people prefer living trusts as they allow for greater control over assets and property.

Is talking about estate planning enough?

Few people in Florida would dispute the importance of end-of-life planning. From drawing up wills to sorting out preferred medical treatments, estate planning is a fairly essential process, particularly for those who are around 50 years old. Unfortunately, the actual percentage of people engaging in estate planning is relatively low.

The most basic estate plan involves a will and not much else. Wills are extremely useful for distributing a person's property, but they might not be helpful in different situations. A more comprehensive estate plan will also include a living will and durable power of attorney. Living wills outline a person's wishes when it comes to end-of-life medical care while a durable power of attorney gives another person the legal right to make those decisions.

Review your estate plan if you decide to move to a new state

You've moved to Florida as a way to escape the colder northern temperatures, but with that comes some things you need to think about. While moving itself wasn't difficult, there are factors such as your will and estate plan that you have to remember will need to be addressed.

If you have moved to a new state, it's necessary to review your estate plan. Why? Some of the documents may no longer be legal or may fall short of meeting the requirements of the state.

Are trusts necessary for transferring gun ownership?

Transferring property may seem as if it should be easy, but there can be complicating factors. This is the case when it comes to leaving behind firearms for heirs, as doing so incorrectly can actually be a criminal offense. Florida gun owners can use trusts to effectively and legally pass on their firearms after death.

Firearms are heavily regulated, and this extends not just to ownership but also to transferring ownership of these weapons. So what is a legal gun owner to do when it comes time for estate planning? A gun trust is a smart solution. Firearm owners can title their guns in either an irrevocable or revocable management trust. Doing so generally allows them to pass on their firearms to heirs without violating any laws.

Estate planning for end-of-life wishes

Thinking about end-of-life matters can be uncomfortable. It can be difficult to imagine a future in which a person no longer has control over themselves, their bodies or their decisions. However, the fact is that many people will face this reality whether they planned or failed to do so. Thorough attention to detail during estate planning can help people in Florida maintain control over their lives even during periods of incapacitation.

A living will is perhaps the easiest way for an individual to lay out one's wishes regarding medical and end-of-life care. In this document, a person can specify what types of treatment he or she is comfortable with and what forms of care the individual would like to avoid. However, even the most detail-oriented person cannot possibly account for every potential scenario, so it is important to pair a living will with a health care power of attorney.

I think my loved one's will isn't valid -- what do I do?

The period of time following a loved one's death is often filled with overwhelming emotions. You will probably still be in the middle of the grieving process when it is time to handle your loved one's will and estate. To make matters more complicated, you and your family might not be happy with the will or may even suspect that it is not even valid. In such cases, you need experienced help on your side.

Most people in Florida create more than one will in their lifetime, and understandably so. A person's assets change, thoughts on charitable giving can shift and new family members are born while others pass away. But what if your loved one updated his or her will and forgot to put the new version in a safe and easily accessible place? Or you cannot determine what controls between two competing wills?

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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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