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

Power of attorney can aid in long-term care estate plan

As individuals age, they may find themselves contemplating their eventual need for assistance during the end of their lives. Sometimes, a person may become incapacitated and need to go into a nursing home or other long-term care. While one is there, he or she may need someone to manage his or her financial affairs. A power of attorney can assist Florida residents with these matters.  

When a person takes the initiative to select a power of attorney while he or she is still well, the person retains a lot more control over what the agent may do. The principal is able to choose the exact individual who he or she wishes to represent him or herself and act on his or her behalf. The principal can also select the range and reach of the agent's powers and assign exactly the powers one believes are appropriate and needed.

Estate planning includes several factors

Confronting one's own mortality isn't pleasant, but taking steps now can ensure that one's relatives receive the inheritance one chooses for them. Estate planning can also help a person set guidelines for how they want affairs to be handled in the event that they become ill and incapacitated. Changing technology means that a person may also want to set policies for how digital accounts are handled after death. In Florida, there are a few common items on the estate planning checklist. 

First, a durable power of attorney can help individuals manage their property and bank accounts in the event that they are not able to. Finances, taxes and other monetary issues can be handled by the power of attorney that one chooses in the document. An advanced health care directive, often accompanied by a medical power of attorney, sets guidelines about one's health wishes. Whether one wants to be kept alive through heroic measures or not will be decided in the health care directive and implemented by the medical power of attorney.

Survey shows family drama among estate planning woes

In light of recent news about tax law changes, some people are worried about how the changes could affect future plans, but a survey shows that even more people are concerned about family issues. Due to the changing and expanding nature of families, estate planning has become more of a challenge for some individuals. A thorough look at the needs and values of a family can help a person plan for his or her needs and wishes in regard to his or her Florida estate. 

A new survey published by TD Wealth shows that 44 percent of the estate planning professionals who were survey respondents believed that family drama was the greatest barrier to estate planning. Tax concerns also made the cut, and some other planners had concerns about the stock market. Experts do believe that, as the tax changes settle in, more families will have questions and concerns about this major change. 

Donating to charity: Donating after death

If you're an avid golfer or love participating in your community's events, then you may be someone who wants to give to charity following your death. Whether or not your family agrees with your decision, this is something that could give you great peace. You love knowing that you're leaving something for others who may need it more than those you're closest to.

Creating your legacy doesn't have to cost everything you own, and you certainly still have the potential to leave plenty to your relatives. Here's what to do if you're thinking about donating to a charity upon death.

After estate planning, documents may need revision

Tax law changes, births, deaths and other significant life changes may call for the revision of the best laid plans. That's why, no matter the hype surrounding current tax laws changes, it is always a good idea to revisit one's estate planning to ensure that the plan is still in line with one's wishes. Florida residents could have a number of reasons to revisit and revise the estate plan. 

One such reason is to ensure that the assets are distributed to the heirs one has chosen, and that the methods for transferring the assets are in line with one's wishes. Many people choose to use trusts to deliver assets -- and still use a will as the primary way to communicate one's wishes. A minor child, a disabled adult, an addicted heir or a spendthrift may warrant a need for a structured trust to protect the assets while under their care. If there are any significant family changes, a person may wish to revise the plan. 

Estate planning tips: organize and streamline

No one wants to feel like they inherited a mess. Whether physical or financial, the mess can be daunting to a person who is sorting through it while grieving. An individual who wishes to offer a cleaned-up, easy-to-sort-through estate to their heirs may benefit from the estate planning tip to organize and streamline the process. Florida residents can apply several strategies to avoid leaving a messy estate. 

In Sweden, there is a part of the culture known as Swedish Death Cleaning. As they get to age 50 or so, individuals will often start to pare down the physical clutter in their lives in order to live more simply and also to avoid leaving a mountain of things behind for heirs to sort through. Many people today wish to have less stuff in their lives, and objects that a person may be saving for children or grandchildren simply aren't wanted.

Planning for long-term care needs

Looking ahead to retirement, many individuals know that they will need a plan for financing their costs of living and the eventual distribution of their assets upon their death. Unfortunately, sometimes the costs of long-term care is overlooked when people assume that their health insurance will cover any of those needs. In Florida, a person has some options and strategies available when it comes to planning for medical needs in the event of decline or incapacitation. 

One way to ensure that needs will be met in the event that a person becomes too disabled to look after finances and daily needs can be to assign power of attorney. A durable power of attorney can act on one's behalf according to standards set in advance health directives. The power of attorney can also handle financial affairs.

Keeping trust documents updated can prevent frustration

Imagine the frustration that can come with not being able to locate an important legal document when it is needed. Amplify that frustration when the document is found, but is either out of date, incorrect or an unauthorized copy. Estate blunders such as these can provoke feelings of frustration, confusion and anxiety for successors and heirs when the time comes to administer one's estate. In Florida, a trust or a will must be kept up to date to avoid common problems that can confuse or slow down the administration process. 

There are a few scenarios that can quickly muddle the process. In one situation, an old, out-of-date trust was preserved, but the new trust was not immediately found. The successor began to administer the estate by using the old document, and then the new one was located. She had wasted significant time and legal fees in administering the out-of-date document, which could have been avoided if she had the correct item in the first place. 

Avoid this mistake for easier trust administration

An estate plan can be a useful tool for the person who wants to protect assets and ensure a smoother transition. As part of an estate plan, many Florida residents elect to create a revocable living trust to house their assets. Unfortunately, after setting up the trust, some individuals forget to fund the vehicle, thus making trust administration difficult for the successor trustees. 

It is relatively simple to create a trust, but if the titles of assets are not transferred into the trust's name, they remain unprotected. The transfer of deeds and titles can be time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Some financial accounts may be transferred simply by filling out the financial institution's requested forms. 

Funding a trust now can help with trust administration later

A new car without fuel might be considered useless. Similarly, a trust that hasn't been properly funded won't be of much use and can be a headache for the individual charged with trust administration. It can be easy and relatively inexpensive to create a trust, but without funding it with the estate assets, the power of the trust is limited. In Florida, a person who wishes to create an estate trust may not want to neglect funding the estate vehicle. 

Funding a trust simply means putting one's stuff into it. This can mean re-titling assets like the home, other real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, insurance polices, etc. A person will also need to name the trust and the trustees in proper order as beneficiaries of the various accounts, including IRAs, life insurance, annuities and retirement plans. Should a person fail to fund the trust, he or she may find unexpected results upon their disability or death. Not only do individuals who fail to fund a trust risk probate, they also risk additional taxes and unintended distributions of assets. 

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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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