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Fort Myers Probate & Estate Planning Law Blog

Should you pick a couple as a guardian?

You're doing your estate planning, trying to decide who to pick as a guardian for your child. Do you choose a single person or do you need to pick a couple?

Many people automatically lean toward couples, and they typically pick those who are already married. They feel like this gives the child a more stable home life. Plus, if the child is already in a two-parent home, it feels like the most natural fit.

5 reasons to create your estate plan today

Your estate plan should never be an afterthought or something you throw together just to technically "cover your bases." You need to give it the proper amount of consideration and planning so that it really addresses what your family needs. Remember, this is your final chance to help them move forward with their lives, and you don't want to make any mistakes.

Below are a few reasons why creating an estate plan is so beneficial:

  • It can reduce the tax burden for your heirs. Your plan can lower your estate tax obligations and ensure that your heirs actually get more of the estate.
  • It can help to prevent fights and disputes between your heirs. Just trusting them to find a fair solution on their own, without the guidance of a plan, sets up a situation that could become complicated and messy.
  • It can help protect family members who need it. For instance, maybe your children are still minors. Should you pass away unexpectedly, your estate plan can protect and distribute their assets, set them up with a guardian and make sure someone provides for them and takes cares of them.
  • It can give you a greater say in the distribution of your assets. If you want to do anything unique, like using trusts or giving money to charity, this is your chance to set up that plan in advance.

Is your will going on the public record?

Drafting a will is a very private event for most people. Some are even unwilling to talk about it with family members in advance.

After that person passes away, though, how many people will find out what is in the document? Is it going to end up on the public record?

Life changes may necessitate changes to your existing will

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, significant life events can alter various areas of your life. Walking through these changes in life can be complex and even overwhelming, but you would be wise to remember how these changes could impact your estate plan. There are times during which a life event or changes in family dynamic could mean that it is necessary to adjust the terms of your will and other estate documents.

Changing or updating a will could be a smart move for you. Failure to do this could lead to complications for your beneficiaries in the future or issues with your health care if you are ever incapacitated. Wills and other documents may not provide the protection you need if they no longer accurately represent your wishes and objectives.

Can an educational trust be used for anything else?

Your parents left you an educational trust so that you would never have to worry about tuition costs. However, you have quickly learned that life comes with a lot of other costs, and you're wondering if you can use the trust for anything else. It's not as if you want to spend it all on a vacation or a new car. These are very real life expenses that you feel your parents would have approved of.

The way the trust can be administered simply depends on how it was written up. If it is a pure educational trust and the instructions say that only direct educational costs can be paid, you may be out of luck.

3 helpful estate planning questions

It can be difficult to get started on your estate planning. You are so committed to making the best possible plan for your family that you just do not know how to get the ball rolling. To help you start moving forward, take a moment to consider these three important questions:

1. Do you want to leave the same amounts to everyone?

What is a pet trust — and do I need one?

If you are a Florida resident who is also a pet owner, you may wonder what will happen to your beloved companion animal if you pass away during your pet's lifetime. Fortunately, your worries can be alleviated by funding a pet trust for your four-legged friend.

Taking the time now to ensure that your loyal companion is well-cared for in the event of your death can give you peace of mind. Pet trusts allow for the continuity of care by a trusted friend or relative. Read on to learn more about what you need to do to provide for your pet(s).

Estate planning is not just for the elderly

estate planning not just for the elderly.jpgWhen many Florida residents hear the term "estate planning," they think of older people settling their final affairs. However, creating an estate plan does not have to be something that only applies to older people. In fact, even if you have only recently reached the age of majority, considering your estate planning desires could prove wise.

When you considered the idea of becoming an adult, your thoughts may have centered around having the ability of going out when you wanted, finishing college, having a career and buying a house. While these actions certainly go hand in hand with adulthood, they also go hand in hand with estate planning.

Steps involved to execute a will

If you have never been part of a will reading, it's a good idea to know ahead of time what to expect. This includes the steps that are involved to execute a will. If a family member dies, you simply cannot go to their home and claim what you know has been left behind to you in the will. There are things that must be handled first before items can be bequeathed to the beneficiaries of the will.

The very first thing the executor of a will is supposed to do when the creator of the will has died is to step in and start running the show. This is their legal duty they have been asked to complete. You should have the most recent copy of the will in your possession and execute the funeral arrangements. Identify outstanding debts and handle any other issues.

Explaining what happens when a disabled child turns 18

disabled 18.jpgHaving a special needs child presents a lot of problems for parents. They might not know how to protect their children, especially if their child does not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions or to protect themselves. Parents have a couple of options when it comes to helping their special needs child succeed in life and avoid becoming the victim of a scam or other issue. But, what happens when the disabled child turns 18?

As your disabled child inches closer to the age of 18, you need to take a few things into consideration:

  • The ability of the child to feed, clothe, bathe and care for their own needs
  • If the child has the ability to effectively communicate their wants and needs
  • If the child has employment that is outside of the home
  • The income and the finances of the child and his or her family
  • The ability of the child to understand the consequences of their actions and decisions
  • If the child will need to live in an assisted living facility