William A. Johnson, P.A. William A. Johnson, P.A.
Probate And Elder Law Services In Brevard County
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Melbourne, Florida, Trust, Estate Planning And Probate Law Blog

Have you made one of these mistakes with your estate plan?

Estate planning probably seems easy enough. What could be hard about writing down one's assets and who should have them? In reality, creating an estate plan is about much more than passing on property and inheritances. Here is a common mistake people in Florida often make when estate planning.

Other than not making an estate plan at all, the next biggest mistake is never looking at it ever again. Life changes, which means that the contents of a person's estate plan might no longer be relevant several years later. The named beneficiary on an insurance policy might no longer be alive, or a person might have acquired new assets that need to be included. To avoid making this mistake, people should try and review their estate plans around once a year.

Protecting estate planning documents at home and elsewhere

Creating an estate plan is important, but so is keeping it safe. A person should understand the best way to keep his or her documents safe until they are needed. However, the manner in which they are stored should not be so safe that loved ones cannot access them in the future. Here are a few suggestions for protecting estate planning documents.

Florida movie fans might notice that safe deposit boxes might be popular choices in movies, but they are often ineffective in real life. This is because a person can give a trusted individual authority to access the box through the original estate planning documents, but that authorization is likely contained in the will, which is in the box. Having an inaccessible estate plan does not help anyone.

How to talk about long-term care plans

Most people learn which topics of conversation are impolite -- including money -- at a relatively young age. This can make it hard for some people to approach the topic of money and financial security with their parents. For adults in Florida who need to talk with their parents about money, estate planning and long-term care, here are a few tips for getting started.

Timing is important when approaching an uncomfortable conversation. However, it is not advisable to start the long-term care conversation just because all of the adult siblings are present or because everyone is gathered for the holiday. A family gathering may include a number of unpredictable factors, such as alcohol and input from family members who are not familiar with the situation. Children and those who should not be involved in such conversations may also be around, so pick a specific date and stick with it.

Don't take trust administration lightly

It may feel as if there a hundred tiny little decisions that must be made during estate planning. While the average person in Florida might start this process with the intention of giving every decision his or her full attention, it can be easy to start slacking a little as time moves forward. However, it is important to give each decision as much consideration as is appropriate, particularly when it comes to matters related to estate and trust administration.

Selecting a person to handle trust administration duties is a big decision. This person is responsible for managing the trust, distributing assets according to directions and even terminating the trust when necessary. This is an important role that should only be filled by a trustworthy individual or -- as some people choose -- a company or service. However, one out-of-state woman claims that the service her parents chose is refusing to follow their wishes.

A special needs trust can give you peace of mind

As you get older, you may start to worry about what will happen to your child if you pass away. When your child was younger, the reality that they had special needs wasn't as serious to you. However, over time, you've realized that not being there could make their life very difficult.

You have many questions that have to be answered. You need to know who will care for them, how they'll support themselves and to understand how they'll get to appointments. You want to know how they'll survive when you're not longer there to help.

What should I do with my eBooks during estate planning?

Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency are often the first things that come to mind when people think about digital assets. Because investing in cryptocurrency is still not a mainstream activity, many people in Florida might think that they do not have any digital assets to protect. These individuals might not bring up digital assets at all when estate planning, or may address these assets in a manner not consistent with the law. Either of these actions can have unintended consequences.

Activities like listening to music, watching movies and even reading books are increasingly taking place in the digital world. Rather than having physical copies of these items, consumers can purchase digital copies that they can easily access and stream at virtually any location. While it might be easier than ever to access these forms of entertainment, it is much more difficult to pass them on to heirs.

Consider a power of attorney during long-term estate planning

Managing finances can be difficult even in the best of situations. Some elderly Florida residents find that keeping track of money, bills, income and more gets harder with age. For these and other reasons, a person might choose to name a trusted loved one or close friend in a financial power of attorney. This is often done during long-term estate planning. These individuals have a significant responsibility to manage those finances in a responsible manner.

Keeping a loved one's money separate is very important. This means that the person who holds a financial power of attorney should not deposit the other person's money into a personal bank account. This can make it extremely difficult to differentiate between each person's money, and accurately tracking outgoing bills and incoming payments may be impossible. On top of that, family members may question a person's decision to mix finances and could pursue an audit of all activities.

Why do I need a trust if I'm not wealthy?

Even though it is important for virtually everyone in Florida to have an estate plan, many people still think that they do not have enough wealth to warrant creating one. This is especially true when it comes to trusts. The less-than-accurate negative association of young adults living off inherited wealth makes some want to avoid the topic of trusts altogether. In reality, a trust can be a very useful estate planning tool.

Understanding what a trust is may help some people feel more open to the idea of creating one. A grantor is the person who creates the trust, which is considered its own legal entity. The grantor transfers property into the trust in order to benefit at least one beneficiary. The trust is managed according to a trust document, which is a set of rules created by the grantor. These rules can address things like under what conditions and when benefits can be paid out, and are carried out by a trustee who manages the trust.

Why you should talk to your parents about money, long-term care

Money is an uncomfortable topic of discussion. Most people would prefer to keep information regarding their income, debts and expenses private, perhaps partly because many were raised to believe that talking about money was not appropriate. This thought prevents Florida parents and their adult children from having important conversations about money, long-term care and estate planning. It could also leave some of those adult children in a financial bind.

A survey from GOBankingRates determined that 73% of adults in America have not talked about finances with their aging parents. Additionally, 22% do not intend to ever bring up the subject. It is possible that some are simply waiting until a parent experiences a financial or health emergency, but by then there is no opportunity to plan or prepare. Considering that approximately 80% of elderly adults live with one or more chronic diseases, some type of emergency is likely to arise.

Will requirements in Florida

Whether you have lived in Florida your entire life or moved here to enjoy your retirement, you need to take the time to ensure that you have a valid estate plan. This provides your heirs the legal basis for passing out your assets in a manner consistent with your wishes. It takes the guesswork out of who gets what. You may find that you can rest a bit easier at night knowing that you have everything planned.

In order to be considered legally valid in this state, your will has to meet certain requirements. Any will that doesn't can be considered invalid by the court, which means your estate would be passed out based on the intestate laws here.

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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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