Though most people here in Florida prefer not to consider what the end of their lives might look like, it is an important conversation to have. That doesn't mean that it is a comfortable situation to navigate, particularly when one has to explain final wishes to family members who may not approve of one's choices. These potentially-volatile family relationships can be a serious obstacle to proper estate planning, as recent research indicates.
Those who create an estate plan here in Florida do so generally in good faith. There is an assumption that beneficiaries will use any inheritance to care for themselves and anyone or anything else designated by the person who created the plan. Unfortunately, some potential beneficiaries may have difficulty handling such a responsibility, especially if the beneficiary suffers from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Yet, leaving such a person out of a will may not be an option either -- it could result in the addicted person spiraling further into turmoil. Experts do have some recommendations for those considering estate planning who find themselves in such a situation.
Not many people enjoy thinking about the end of their life. Besides being an unpleasant thing to consider, it can bring up difficult decisions that may need to be made. Many people would prefer not to think about it at all, but that could be a mistake. Families here in Florida and around the nation can use the new year as a reason to update or create a new estate plan, to ensure that their assets are handled the way they want and that their final wishes are honored.
For those Florida residents who have jumped out ahead of the curve and have an estate plan in place, all of the work is not permanently wrapped up. Estate planning is an organic process, and it will be necessary to review the plan with the attorney approximately every three years. When a tax law changes, its impact must be compared to the existing terms of one's plan so that updates can be made if necessary. In addition, there are several other reasons to review periodically the continuing accuracy and efficacy of one's plan.
Younger adults with children are prime candidates for developing an estate plan under Florida law. The adult parents will be concerned about what can happen to the children if the parents die before the children reach adulthood. This may be even more pressing where one or more of the children may have special estate planning needs to provide for.
In Florida, it is generally easy and convenient to leave funds or other assets to charitable organizations. Many people believe that they cannot afford to give to their favorite charity without upsetting the other bequests to their family and friends. That is generally a false presumption because there are various tax benefits for charitable gifts that may possibly make up for any loss in one's corpus. The best way to see what can be afforded and how to set it up is to meet with one's estate planning attorney and, if needed, a qualified financial planning expert.
Parents of minor children in Florida will benefit by consulting with an estate planning attorney to determine the best measure of protection for the children in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Estate planning for minor children is very important for several reasons. The parents can each include a provision designating who will serve as guardian of the children if both parents are deceased. Thankfully, this happens rarely, but it is best to prepare so that the children are not put through additional stress and uncertainty in the event of a crisis.
People may tend to confuse a health care proxy with a living will. They are two different legal instruments in estate planning that produce two distinctly separate outcomes. Each state, including Florida, will have statutory rules that define the requirements of each of these, but in general most states will achieve the same outcome with little real deviation.
The benefits of estate planning for Florida residents cannot be overstated. In some instances, tax burdens can be reduced. Probate fees may be lowered or even eliminated. Importantly, the empowerment that one derives from having prepared an estate planning framework for precisely how things will work after death is usually very gratifying.
Making an estate plan in Florida and elsewhere includes the task of choosing a number of agents and surrogates who are called upon to make decisions and take action on one's behalf when incapacitated or after death. The persons appointed within the potential scope of estate planning can include an agent under a power of attorney or a health care power, trustees, executors, beneficiaries under various accounts, legal instruments and insurance policies, in addition to other surrogates. One problem that arises is the appointment of persons simply because they are family members.