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Fort Myers Probate & Estate Planning Law Blog

Explaining an inter vivos trust

If you are getting ready to sit down with your attorney to create an estate plan, one of the trusts you need to have an understanding of is the inter vivos trust. This trust is created by the trustor when putting together the estate plan. An alternate name for this trust is living trust, and it can be active for a specific period based on the wishes of the trustor.

The biggest advantages of creating an inter vivos trust include the following:

  • The trustor can act as the trustee of the inter vivos trust for the length of their life or until a backup trustee named in the trust is ready to take the reigns as the trustee.
  • An inter vivos trust helps avoid probate when the trustor dies. Since the trust holds the assets of the trustor, these assets will not have to go through probate if the trust is still valid upon death.
  • The inter vivos trust is able to hold all of the assets of the trustor, or only those that he or she chooses.

Answering frequently asked questions about guardians

If you are ever named a guardian of a minor or you need to set up guardianship for your minor child, you should know some of the most basic information about this legal position. Today, we will answer some frequently asked questions about guardians.

Do I need to become the guardian of my own child?

Can you protect your estate from a lawsuit?

There are all kinds of ways that you -- or, rather, your estate -- could end up being sued after your death. You could leave behind a major hospital bill, owe a big personal loan that never got paid back or even cause an accident just before you died.

Things like that put your financial plans for your estate -- and the plans you may have had for your heirs -- in serious jeopardy. For example, one man's estate was recently ordered to pay $10 million to the bereaved family members of two Florida teenagers. All three people died in a wrong-way accident caused by the 99-year-old. The Michigan resident had already been listed as incompetent to drive and had somehow not only gotten on the wrong side of the divided highway but was also driving without his headlights on in the dark.

Common myths about creating a will

Have you created a will yet? If not, what are you waiting for? This is one of the most important documents you can have to your name in your life. Why? A will protects you, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your assets and anything else you'd like to include. Today, we will look at some common myths about creating a will.

Myth #1: A will is for the rich.

How to avoid your will being contested

It is a common occurrence for people to contest the wills and estates of their family members or others they know throughout life. Why would someone contest a will? For starters, they believe that the people named in the will should not be getting what they are getting or shouldn't be named at all in the will. You can prevent your will from being contested by following the tips outlined in today's post.

A great way to prevent someone from contesting your will is to refrain from flaunting the value of your estate. This means that you shouldn't discuss it with a lot of people. You shouldn't keep it hidden either. Your spouse and adult children should know what is going to happen upon your death, but bragging about the size of your estate can only lead to problems.

Avoiding mistakes when naming beneficiaries

Wanting to leave assets to loved ones as part of an estate plan can be a sentimental and wise step. You may get a warm feeling knowing that your loved ones will obtain something from you after your passing whether it is money or personal items. Naming beneficiaries can also ensure that the distribution of those assets takes place more quickly and easily.

Of course, that quickness and ease depend on the accuracy of your beneficiary designations. You may find it somewhat insulting to think that you cannot put a person's name down correctly on a beneficiary designation form, but really, mistakes with these designations are not uncommon.

Steps for changing the trustee of a trust

Creating a trust is one of the most important parts of putting together your estate plan. But, did you know that you can change the trustee whenever you see fit? That's right; the trustee you choose is not set there for eternity. You can make a change for whatever reason you deem. It is your estate plan and your trust, why shouldn't you be allowed to change your preference?

There is usually one hiccup that can come into play when trying to change the trustee of your trust. This is when there is a co-grantor (creator of the trust) named on the trust. You will both need to agree to change the trustee and appoint a new one.

Major mistakes made when estate planning

Even though putting together an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do in life, it can still be done incorrectly. For example, you could make various mistakes in your estate plan, which could lead to any of the documents being invalid. Today, we will discuss the major mistakes you can make when estate planning in Florida.

The first mistake in estate planning is not having a plan. The absence of a will upon your death will wind up sending all of your assets to the state for decisions. The state will decide which of your heirs gets which piece of property or asset. This will likely not reflect your views, but you lost that chance when you failed to create a will and other estate planning documents.

What to expect if chosen as a guardian

Being chosen as a guardian for someone else's child is an important responsibility. You might never have to exercise this responsibility, but you should still be prepared to take care of the child if the unthinkable happens to his or her parents. Let's take a look at what you should expect if you are chosen as the guardian of someone else's children in today's post.

You will be legally responsible for deciding where the child will live. The child can move in with you at your current home, or you could decide to move somewhere else. You need to notify the court if you decide to move, especially if you decide to move out of the state of Florida.

What you can learn from celebrity probates

If you've been putting off discussing matters of your estate with your spouse or other loved ones, you might change your mind and want to get the ball rolling after you read this post. It's understandable that many people in Florida and elsewhere hesitate to talk about estate planning because it has to do with mortality. However, quite a few celebrities have died in the past few years who made the mistake of not having a signed estate plan in place.

The results have led to lengthy probate litigation and other stressful issues for those closest to them. Reviewing such cases can show you how beneficial it is to execute a thorough estate plan and to keep it updated. You don't have to be an expert on such matters because you can seek guidance and support from someone well versed in the estate planning process.