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Fort Myers Probate & Estate Planning Law Blog

Important tips for choosing a child guardian in Florida

If you have children, or are planning on having children, there is an important decision that both parents must make. That decision is who will serve as the legal guardian of the children should you and the other parent die before the children reach the age of 18. This is a very difficult discussion to have but it should never be skipped. Here are some tips for choosing a guardian for your children in Florida.

You need to find someone who is comfortable with children, especially when around your children. Your children should also be comfortable with the person you want to choose. They should have a lengthy relationship (godparent, your sibling, close friend) that can ultimately make the transition an easy one.

Tips for choosing a power of attorney

A power of attorney is an important designation that everyone should choose at one point during his or her life. This designation is typically found in a will that is created by an individual or a couple. It can be difficult to pick someone to serve as your power of attorney.

Here are some important tips you should follow when choosing such a designation so you make the right choice and only have to make one choice.

Things to consider when choosing a trustee

Assigning someone you trust to serve as your trustee is a difficult task, and one that you may easily underestimate. Before simply naming a friend or associate as your trustee, be sure that you understand which qualities a good trustee must possess, in order to keep your affairs in order and make sure that you do not invite necessary risk into your estate plan.

Serving as trustee can present a number of significant challenges and responsibilities. A high-quality trustee not only understands the tax and estate issues at hand to an acceptable degree of accuracy, he or she should have a working knowledge of how to handle these issues effectively and efficiently. In other words, this is not a position you should fill using "popularity contest" rules, but one that requires a detailed understanding of a number of complex issues.

Is it wise to name more than 1 trustee?

When creating a trust, it is important to carefully consider who serves as the trustee. As your estate and the trust's contents grow more complex, the duties of the trustee grow in significance as well, as may the temptation to misuse the authority granted to trustees. To combat this potential temptation, and to spread around the duties associated with serving as a trustee, some people choose to name more than one trustee. This comes with its own set of benefits and potential complications.

In general, there a few limits to the number of trustees you may choose to serve your needs, but when many trustees all serve in the same or similar capacity at once, things tend to get more, not less, problematic.

Tax reform and other challenges to estate planning efforts

Estate planning is an important step for most Florida readers. Despite what many people think, this is not only for people with valuable assets and significant wealth but for people of all income levels. Having even a simple estate plan in place can ensure you have control over what happens to your assets and minimize problems with your beneficiaries.

There can be many issues with estate planning, and some of these challenges may prevent you from moving forward with important plans. If you do not have an estate plan or you need to update existing plans, you have no time to lose in having the necessary protections in place. This can help you have peace of mind about your future financial interests.

These issues may invalidate a will

Creating a will is an essential component of any estate plan, and it may offer important guidance to your beneficiaries and heirs when you pass away or become incapacitated. However, simply creating a will is often not enough to ensure that your wishes will be honored without challenges from interested parties or the legal system itself. A number of complications may arise if you do not take care when drafting your last will.

In order to properly create a will, you must first have the legal authority and capacity to make legal decisions for yourself. A person who is not yet 18 years old, for instance, may not generally create a valid will.


Cryptocurrency and your estate plan

In the last several years, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have seen their public image rise considerably. While the idea of owning cryptocurrency seemed like a distant possibility for laypeople only a few years ago, these financial instruments are gaining popularity more quickly than state or federal laws can often keep up with them.

Many individuals who own significant sums of cryptocurrency must consider how to address these assets in their estate plan, which can present some interesting complications. Unlike a currency with relative stability like the dollar, cryptocurrency values may fluctuate wildly within a matter of days, or even hours in some cases, much like stocks in a single company. This may complicate efforts to use cryptocurrencies to skirt hefty regulations or taxation.


When is the right time to fund a living trust?

righttimetofundtrustinfographic.pngLiving trusts offer a convenient "hybrid" approach to estate planning that combines many of the most important protections that make trusts useful while foregoing some of the most frustrating restrictions that other trusts keep in place. While this flexibility comes at the cost of some of the more detailed protections that more unwieldy trust provide, many individuals find that the added access to assets and flexibility in altering terms of a living trust are worth the trade off.

However, because a living trust is so much more flexible than other trusts, it is not always easy to know when is actually the best time to fund the trust, or if it is even necessary to fund the trust directly at all.


Many estate documents must reflect changes in a will

There are many reasons why you might alter your will, such as a significant life event, a change in your wishes for your estate or beneficiaries, or changes in the laws that govern taxation and estate planning.

It is wise to take time to sit down and review your will about every three years, even if no significant changes occur, simply to remind yourself of the details your own wishes and ensure that the document still represents your priorities. However, if you alter your will and do not also alter relevant documents relating to the changes you make, your new will may not hold water when it comes time to execute it.

Digital assets and changes to estate planning

Florida readers know that an estate plan is always a good idea, regardless of a person's age, heath or the value of his or her estate. Estate plans can allow you to decide what will happen to your property, including everything from your home to your valuables. However, many estate plans also now include terms that address digital assets as well.

Your digital assets are an important part of your life, yet many people forget to include these things in their estate plans. By leaving these things out of your will, your loved ones may find themselves left dealing with the complications associated with everything from what will happen to your Facebook account to your photos stored online.