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

Yes, you can change your estate plan's powers of attorney

Selecting a person to take over financial or medical decisions in the event of an emergency or medical incapacitation is an enormous step during estate planning. However, family members fall out of favor, close friends become distant and decisions that once made sense might no longer be relevant. In such situations, Florida residents may need to revoke their current powers of attorney in order to establish new ones.

Some powers of attorney include termination dates, but this is not always the case. Many POAs are durable, meant to last and be ready in the event that an emergency or other situation arises. For financial and health care powers of attorney, most people pursue the durable option to ensure that someone will be able to make important decisions in the event of their own incapacitation.

Is it time to revisit estate planning?

Creating an estate plan is an important part of becoming an adult. However, simply drawing up a will and choosing someone to act as a health care proxy does not mean that a person's job is done. Regularly updating documents is an important part of estate planning that many people in Florida tend to overlook. Here are a few situations that indicate a person should consider updating his or her plan.

For those who created their estate plan while living in another state, an update is in order. Laws that govern estate planning are typically not covered at the federal level, so anything someone drafted while living in another state may no longer be relevant. Individuals who recently moved to Florida should make sure to update their wills, trusts, living wills and health care powers of attorney, or take the risk that these documents may be ineffective in this state.

Did Stan Lee forget about estate planning?

Florida fans of comic books and superhero movies recently mourned the death of the comic writing icon Stan Lee. Famous for the characters he created, Lee was recently in the headlines for both the movies based on his creations as well as his estate planning issues. Now, those problems with his estate plan may be coming to fruition.

Lee was 95 at the time of his death and had spent much of his last year in poor health. It is currently unclear exactly what kind of estate plan he left behind, and some are wondering if he followed in the footsteps of other celebrities like Prince and Aretha Franklin, leaving behind no plan at all. Even if he has some type of estate plan in place, things could still be difficult for his 68-year-old daughter.

After divorce, get ready to update your estate plan

Going through a divorce leaves little mental space or energy for dealing with other matters. However, this does not mean that individuals in Florida can simply ignore everything else. While it can be frustrating to realize that there is even more to deal with, updating an estate plan during or soon after a divorce is essential.

Wills are often seen as an extension of their makers, but this cannot be the case when the documents list assets that are no longer in their possession. Divorce involves the dividing of marital property, so failing to update a will might ultimately paint an inaccurate picture of a person's post-divorce assets. Heirs would probably not be pleased to learn that they will not receive an inheritance because their parent or grandparent left them something that they do not even own anymore. Adjusting how much an heir receives to better reflect divided financial accounts is also important.

Choosing the right executor during estate planning

Creating a comprehensive estate plan is usually done with the best of intentions, and most people in Florida probably hope that their carefully crafted documents will help their surviving family members deal with the aftermath of their death. Regardless of intentions, many wills still end up causing serious tensions. For better estate planning results, consider the following.

Naming an executor is not about picking the closest friend or kindest family member. Being an executor requires a certain set of skills, including attention to detail, an ability to stay organized, scrupulous ethics and more. This means that a person may not want to select the oldest child because of seniority, but instead consider which person might best fill the needs of the role. Communicating the reasons behind this choice beforehand can also help quell any opposition that may arise later.

Estate planning: How a special needs trust can help

Parents of special needs children already understand the extra care and dedication that goes into the job. Many worry about what will happen to their adult children after they are gone. While Florida parents might expect their other children or family members to take over caregiving duties, it is important to establish these matters through careful estate planning. This includes setting up a special needs trust to protect a person's finances.

A special needs trust is one of the most effective ways to ensure that a disabled child continues receiving vital government aid and benefits. Many government programs -- including Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, job training programs, subsidized housing and more -- are only available to individuals with low incomes. If a parent leaves behind a significant inheritance, that heir could be kicked off of these programs and faced with two options -- go without essential services or quickly drain the inheritance to pay for them, and return to government assistance. Instead, leaving money via a trust is a better idea.

Ready to talk about your estate plan? Keep this tips in mind

Discussing end-of-life matters is not always easy, but those who tackle the topic with their family can realize incredible benefits. Unfortunately, loved ones are not always so receptive to these topics. Florida individuals who want to discuss their estate plan with heirs but are worried about their reaction may want to consider these helpful tips.

Having this discussion often means laying a few ground rules. These may include no interrupting, respecting -- without necessarily having to agree with -- each person's opinion and keeping everything private. It is not really possible to have an open discussion about the contents of a will if people are constantly talking over one another and ignoring what they have to say.

An irrevocable trust can be a good fit for some Florida seniors

Planning for the future can be stressful. That's especially true for those in Florida who are considering their long term care needs. Many families are uncertain what level of care their loved one might need in the years ahead, making it difficult to know which path to pursue. For those who believe they might need to rely on Medicaid benefits to cover some of the costs of long term care, researching irrevocable trusts is a good place to begin. 

When an individual places assets within a trust, the trust itself becomes the owner of those assets. In the case of a revocable trust, the creator can make changes at any time, and can dictate that he or she (or any other entity or person) be considered a beneficiary, eligible to receive wealth from the trust. The problem lies in the fact that Medicaid would also be considered a beneficiary, and could also tap into those assets. 

How often should you update your estate plan?

When you enter retirement, there may be many different things you want to do and achieve. You have the time to travel, and you may even choose to move to another state.

One thing you can't forget about is how important it is to update your estate plan and will. If you don't do so regularly, you could fail to change something you were meaning to update. Then, if you pass away, you won't be able to state your true intentions.

Contact

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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