Tag: Estate Plan

5 Questions to Answer in New Year’s Florida Estate Planning Checklist

Did you enjoy celebrating the new year with your family? Did you make a list of resolutions you want to accomplish this year? Is a Florida estate plan on your list? Do you have a Florida estate plan? If you do, that is great news, but when was the last time you looked at it? If you do not have a plan, is your resolution to accomplish that goal as soon as possible? Keep reading for information about an estate planning checklist to help you.

In our office we often meet with clients and their loved ones to discuss the need for a Florida estate plan. Our clients want to know just what is needed to ensure that they are personally protected, as well as their businesses, their family, and the legacy they want to leave behind.

That has led us to develop an estate planning checklist that we would like to share with you. In our checklist we have five questions that you should ask yourself now, or as soon as you can, to make sure that your estate plan reflects your goals for both now and in the future.

1. Is your Florida estate plan recent? When was the last time you updated your estate plan? Did you know that simple things like name changes and address changes, can cause problems when they are not updated to reflect life changes? If you have not updated your estate plan recently with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney, or checked in to make sure it reflects what you actually want, we would encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

2. Have you chosen a healthcare decision maker? No one should ever take their health for granted! That is why your legal health care decision-making documents are so important. Again, have your Florida estate planning attorney review your documents so that you have the person you want to have legal authority to make decisions for you in a crisis set up properly.

3. Do you have retirement goals or have you completed any retirement planning? Did you know that retirement planning is an essential part of estate planning? What are your goals for your retirement? Are you confident that your estate plan follows your goals for retirement? Do you need guidance on how to get where you want to go, not just financially, but with an eye on the legacy that you want to create? Ask your Florida estate planning attorney for advice.

4. Have you made any long-term care plans? Have you given any thought to what would happen if, in the future, you might need significant long-term care? You need to know that Medicare will not pay for most types of long-term care. So it is necessary for you to consider your long-term care needs and find out how the financial drain on your resources could impact your estate-planning. Your Florida estate planning attorney will be able to help you create your estate plan cooperatively with your long-term care plan.

5. Is having your estate avoid probate important? Your estate plan could possibly be created in such a way as to help you avoid the Florida probate process. While your estate may avoid probate, be sure that your beneficiaries are also protected going forward. Do you have an estate plan that will be able to not only leave a legacy but also ensure that future generations will be protected? If not, this is a topic that should be at the top of your estate planning checklist.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

The End of the Year Long-Term Planning Checklist You Need in Florida

Are you an active senior living on your own in Florida? As the year comes to an end, have you thought about your future and long-term care? What would happen to you if you suddenly became incapacitated due to an accident or surgery? What is your plan if you receive a serious health diagnosis? Do you have a legacy in place for your estate when you pass away? All these questions need planning ahead for answers.

Quite frankly, most of us would like to avoid even thinking about any long-term planning, let alone doing anything, but it is very important. Having the time to decide early, before a crisis occurs, is invaluable. Working with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to ensure your lifetime of savings is protected from nursing home bills is an invaluable gift. 

When you do meet with your Florida elder law attorney, how do you begin the conversation about planning for the future? In our office, we understand that long-term planning can be complicated. We know that you, like many of our clients, have questions. Below, we would like to share with you an end of the year long-term care planning checklist. As the year is drawing to a close you may want to use it when talking to your loved ones about long-term care planning for yourself over the holidays, or anytime throughout the year.

  • Do you live at home?
  • Are there mobility issues within your home?
  • Is your home equipped for you to age in place?
  • Do you have a life alert or alarm system in place to help you should you fall?
  • Have you had any changes to your doctors or your medications?
  • Are your doctors covered by your insurance?
  • Do you have any new health care concerns that have arisen over the past year?
  • Do you have a good local support system?
  • How is your mental health?
  • How collaborative is your family dynamic?
  • Do you have a Florida estate plan and is it up to date?
  • Does your Florida durable power of attorney include super powers?
  • Are you able to live comfortably on your monthly income?
  • Do you have long-term care insurance?
  • How long could you afford to pay for a nursing home out of pocket?
  • Have you worked with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to create a plan for long-term care?

While long-term planning can be difficult to think about, it is critical. As the year draws to an end, long-term care planning may be developed in a way to provide certainty, which can often be missing in the aging process. When you plan for your long-term care you and those you love will benefit from the peace of mind that comes with your planning.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Helping Your Aging Florida Parents Answer Key Questions Before it is Too Late

Are you the child of aging parents living in Florida? As your parents age, are you looking for ways to support them in the challenges they face, including mobility and physical challenges, changing health care or financial providers and aging in place issues, to name a few. All these circumstances your parents and you face may, at times, feel overwhelming.

As you look to the future for your aging parents, do you have questions about how best you can support them? We advise our clients that have issues like this in our practice each day and we want to share a few key questions for you to ask them right now.

1. Do your aging parents have short term goals? If they do have definite goals for what they want now, and in the immediate future, then start the conversation, but do not hesitate to include these conversation points:
• Are they approaching retirement?
• Will they be able to afford their lifestyle when they no longer have a paycheck?
• Do they need to address any advancing health care concerns now?
• Do they have long-term care insurance?
• Do they want to live in their home as long as they can or do they plan to relocate?
By starting to ask questions like this, you and your parents can begin to find answers and begin planning in order to help them reach their goals.

2. Do your parents have any long-term goals? This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is critical to have with your aging parents sooner rather than later. Be mindful that no one wants to consider end of life plans, or a time when only one spouse is alive, so be thoughtful. Another difficult conversation, but also very important is the conversation in regard to a potential disability or the need for skilled care.

3. Have they thought about aging in place? Aging in place is still a fairly new term across the nation. It is the idea of being able to stay in your own home longer and avoid skilled institutional care. You need to begin talking to your aging parents about this as soon as possible. Because when it comes to aging in place, proactive planning is critical and you can make a difference when you talk to your parents as soon as possible. If they like the idea, they should meet with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to address their needs.

4. Do they have an estate plan and does it reflect their current goals? Believe it or not less than half of all Americans have an estate plan. Therefore, the first step is to be sure your parents have an estate plan. If they do not, you need to explain to them that you do not want them in the vulnerable position of not being protected against probate or at risk of not having a healthcare decision maker in times of crisis. If they do have an estate plan be sure your parents are updating their estate plan on a regular basis and that it reflects their current wishes for both their legacy and their decision makers.

5. Do your parents have a Florida estate planning and elder law attorney? It is critical that your aging parents have the representation that comes from working with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney. She can step in to ensure both their lifetime and end of life decisions can be met. To the extent you can be included as you respect the privacy of your aging parents, request to be so that you have a full understanding of your parents wishes.

We know this article may bring up more questions than it answers. Helping your aging parents address issues like this will both help you care for them and ensure everyone is working toward the same goal together.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

How to Get Important Answers When You Are in Your Parents’ Florida Estate Plan

Did you know that less than half of the adult American population have completed their estate plan? With that said, have you just learned from your parents that they have created their estate plan? We know that you must be very relieved that they are now protected by having a decision maker in place during a time of crisis. However, were you surprised to learn you were the person who was chosen to make decisions for your parents in the event they were incapacitated? We know you probably have many questions now that you are named in your parents’ estate plan. How do you get the answers? Do you need to know what your duties and responsibilities actually are as a part of this process? We have five questions you could ask right here.

1. There is a crisis, what do you do now? First, you need to talk to your parents about what they would want you to do in a sudden crisis. Now this crisis could be anything from being in a coma due to a serious accident to being stuck overseas due to a flight delay. What is your role? What are your parents expecting you to do? Having a plan in place now, before the crisis, is the best discussion to have with your parents and will help guide any decisions you make when it comes to successfully navigating the crisis.

2. Health care decisions need to be made, are you in charge? As part of their estate plan your parents would have included health care planning. Your parents will have named each other as decision maker, but if they were both incapacitated they need a second decision maker named and that is you. So, right now you need to know what they want for their health care. Start with the basics: What do they want for their general care? What is their goal for long-term care? What would they want if they were on life support? Honestly, these are tough questions, but you need to know their answers to learn what they would want so you can act in their best interest in any health care situation. Also, we recommend that you keep and maintain a current list of their diagnoses, doctors, specialists, and medicines.

3. Finances, who is in charge? It would not be surprising to know that you have little knowledge of your parents’ finances. If you have been put in charge and been named as the agent in their durable power of attorneys or a trustee in their trust, now is the time to learn. You can ask your parents questions about where they invest, who they work with, and what type of management fees they pay? Find out whether they have life insurance or other policies with beneficiaries that might pass outside the estate plan? Are all their planning tools current? As soon as you can, start this discussion with your parents so you know what to expect should you need to step in.

4. Do your parents have a legacy they want to leave behind? In addition to protecting themselves, does a part of your parents’ estate plan protect what they want for their future, their family, and their legacy? Do they have a legacy they wish to create? What goals do they have for you in continuing their legacy? Discuss with your parents what their vision is so that you can see it come to fruition if they should pass away.

5. Should you meet the Florida estate planning attorney for your parents? If it is okay with your parents, it would be good to know and even meet their Florida estate planning attorney. There is no doubt that successful Florida estate plans have an experienced Florida estate planning attorney behind them. Ask your parents the following questions: Who did your parents work with? What will be your relationship with them? Where do the original documents live? Can you meet the attorney in advance to make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities? Be sure your parents know that you are willing to meet their attorney if they want you to.

Being named within your parents’ estate plan brings serious questions that you need answered. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

How Could SLATs Be The Best Planning Tool For You?

Do you and your spouse have a Florida estate plan?  Are you wondering if a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust, commonly referred to as a “SLAT,” is an estate planning tool that you should add to your estate plan? Are you aware that SLATs will allow you to remove up to $11.6 million from your estate and place it in an irrevocable trust for your spouse? Your spouse will then be able to use and access these funds during his or her lifetime.  You need to know that one of the primary benefits of a SLAT is that it allows your spouse to use distributions from the irrevocable trust while you are both living while simultaneously avoiding the estate tax and isolating those assets from creditors.

With a SLAT, however, there are a few precautions you should consider taking in order to obtain the estate planning and asset protection benefits of a SLAT. To begin, you should be sure that there is no express or implied agreement that the party gifting the assets in the trust will get those assets back. It should be clear that the assets in the trust will not be returned to the grantor or the trust will not be viewed as “irrevocable.” Next, the SLAT should not allow the funds in the trust to be used to pay the creditors of the grantor. Be mindful that if the trust allows for such payments, it may not qualify as a SLAT and there may be resulting tax consequences.  Lastly, even though the beneficiary of SLATs cannot agree to return the funds to the grantor, the beneficiary can distribute the funds to their children, which will allow the assets to remain in the family if the beneficiary spouse should pass away while the trust remains funded.

We would highly recommend that you see your Florida estate planning attorney to find out if you and your family would benefit from a SLAT. Your Florida estate planning attorney can review your finances and your estate planning goals to help make recommendations regarding the best estate planning vehicles, including SLATs, to preserve your assets for your family and minimize any adverse tax consequences.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Three Reasons Why Trusts Fail

Are you contemplating adding a trust to your Florida estate plan? Trusts are a useful estate planning instrument: To keep an estate out of probate. For tax planning purposes. For long-term care planning by structuring a person’s assets in a way that makes him or her eligible for Medicaid to cover the expense of a nursing home. Unfortunately, though, trusts can also fail. We would like to share with you three reasons why a trust may fail.

1. The trust was never funded. Working with your Florida estate planning attorney and creating a trust is a lot of work. Equally important is signing the trust and making it legal. However, there is one more very important step, the trust must be funded. All of the assets described in the trust must be moved into the trust in order for the trust to be funded. This means that the trust must hold title to all of your assets. This involves changing the deed on your home, the title to cars, boats, RV’s, the ownership of bank accounts and stock certificates intended to be transferred into the trust. Funding a trust can be a critical step in properly establishing a trust, but it is also one that may be overlooked. If the trust is not funded, the trust’s beneficiaries may find that they will receive nothing from the trust.

2. The beneficiaries were never updated. Once you have completed your trust, you do not just place it in a drawer or safety deposit box and forget it. A trust should be reviewed and if necessary updated whenever there is a significant life change, such as the birth or death of a loved one, a divorce or a remarriage, or even the death of your trustor. All of these life events can impact who inherits from your estate.

3. The trust was never updated to reflect current law. You need to be aware that the laws on trust and estates can change. In fact, your trust may have been drafted under one set of laws, but more importantly, there may be new or updated laws at the time of your passing, which have the potential to invalidate portions of your trust. Your best solution to this problem is to work with your Florida estate planning attorney. She can provide periodic bulletins regarding significant changes in the law, which can alert you to the need to have your trust revised. It is vital that everyone have their trust reviewed periodically by their estate planning attorney to assure that it is supported by current law.

With good planning, trusts can be one of the most useful estate planning instruments. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

4 Reasons Why You Should Always Prioritize The Creation Of Your Estate Plan

Have you created your estate plan yet? If not, is it at the top of your list of things to do? Are you aware that, according to a 2022 survey, even though almost two-thirds of Americans know that having an estate plan is important, less than one-third of Americans have an estate plan in place? The primary reason why people do not have an estate plan in place is because they have just not gotten around to it. We would like to share with you four reasons to make it a priority to work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney to create an estate plan.

1. Taxes may be kept to a minimum with a good estate plan. You may be able to minimize the amount of taxes your estate may have to pay by creating a Florida estate plan. If a good estate plan is not created and put into place, depending on the size of your estate and the location of your property, the tax burden for your estate may be very significant.

2. Children need your estate plan in place for their protection. If you have children, there are a myriad of reasons why estate planning is important. For example, you will want to identify in your will who you would like to raise your children in the event of your death, otherwise, a court will probably make that decision for you. Also, you want to be able to decide how your assets are distributed to your children in the event of your death. If you die without an estate plan, the distribution of your assets will likely be governed by the laws of Florida.

3. Privacy is important to protect. You like to keep your life private. You also want to keep the probate of your estate private. By working with your estate planning attorney, she will show you a variety of estate planning documents, other than a Last Will and Testament, that can help you accomplish your goal of privacy.

4. It is very important to have a plan for incapacity in place. Estate planning is about what happens to your assets when you die, but it can also involve planning for the possibility of your incapacity due to an accident or illness. Your estate planning attorney can show you the documents to put into your estate plan that will allow you to choose a trusted family member or friend to be your agent should you be unable to make financial or healthcare decisions.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Are You Worried About Florida Probate? Here Is How To Avoid It

Do you want to have your estate avoid probate when you pass away? Have you recently created your last will and testament, but worried that your estate may still have to be probated? Are you planning for your estate to not go through probate when you pass away because you have a Florida last will and testament? First, having a Florida will in place is excellent. However, the fact that you have a will does not, by itself, allow your estate to avoid probate. Let us share some information with you.

You should consider other estate planning tools if you want to keep your assets out of probate. Your Florida will is a set of instructions for your personal representative. Your will lets your personal representative know how to distribute all of your assets, which may include a house, a vehicle, bank or brokerage accounts or personal items. However, even though you have written down instructions in your will it does not change the fact that the assets may be subject to probate. Your personal representative will be required to probate your will, and this could possibly take time and money from your estate.

You might want to consider putting your assets into a trust if you are worried about probate. By meeting with your Florida estate planning attorney she may advise you that a revocable trust could be a good way to avoid putting your estate through probate. Now that you have created your revocable trust and put your assets into the trust, your work may not be done if you want your estate to avoid probate. Unfortunately, you may not always be set at this point. If there are any changes in your assets, they must be reflected in your trust. For example, you may sell some assets, acquire some assets but forget to put your new assets into your trust. Be aware that only the assets in your trust will avoid probate. Any other assets you may have acquired but forgot to put into the trust will have to go through probate.

You must be careful to not have any information in your will and in your trust that does not match. If the information in your will does not match the terms of your trust document, then your trust document may prevail. If there are any inconsistencies they may have to be reviewed by a probate court.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Tips and Pointers on Where to Keep Your Original Florida Estate Planning Documents?

As a senior adult, are you like many Americans, still keeping your important paperwork and valuables at your bank? Do you believe a safe deposit box is the best place for storing important documents? After all, is it not logical that renting a safe deposit box is a much safer bet than keeping everything at home? These are all good questions and we would like to address them in our blog.

Now that you, together with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney, have created your documents for your Florida estate plan, you may be thinking about keeping your documents at your bank. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are pros and cons to this plan. We would like to share more on this topic so you can make a decision and, as always, do not hesitate to ask us your questions.

Interestingly, many estate planning attorneys may urge their clients not to keep the original copies of their estate planning documents in a safe deposit box. Let us share four tips and pointers as to why: 1. The bank is only open on certain days and at specific times. 2. Access to safe deposit boxes is limited to the owner or owners. 3. If you are the sole owner of a safety deposit box, your family and/or the personal representative(s) of your estate may need a court order to get your documents. 4. There can be ways around this, such as adding additional owners to the box, but you may not want to or forget to use them. We recommend you speak with your attorney because you can designate access to your safe deposit box in your durable power of attorney. A word of caution, though, banks do not always honor these documents when the time comes. Further, they cease to work upon your passing.

Where should you put your original estate planning documents, other papers and valuables? Instead of putting your original estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, consider these tips and pointers: 1. A fireproof and waterproof lockbox at home. 2. A home safe. 3. A secure container on an upper shelf of a closet or cabinet.

No matter where you decide to keep your original documents, remember to make copies. You can safely take copies of your documents with you to any professional visits you need to make, for example, your physician. Your original estate planning documents need to remain safely stored away so that there will be no challenges in the future for your needs, the needs of your family and your legacy. Be sure to discuss this now with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney.

As always, we are here to answer any of your questions and help address your concerns. You are welcome to ask us about storing your original estate planning documents, or about any estate planning matters, at any time. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

3 Ideas for Including a Pet Trust in Your Florida Estate Plan

Do you have a pet or pets? You know how hard it is when the pet you have loved and cared for and who has been with you for a long time passes away. However, It may be very possible that your pet will outlive you. Are you an aging adult or do you have a pet that has a longer than average lifespan? You may want to consider a pet trust to ensure your pet is cared for after you are gone. We would like to share with you more about a pet trust and give you three A, B, C, thoughts to consider in regard to a pet trust being in your estate plan.

1. Aim for the right caregiver. You know your pet best. When you set up your pet trust, you will be able to name the right person to care for your pet. Now, your adult child may feel it would be his or her responsibility to take your pet. However, your adult child does not have the right circumstances at home to do so, perhaps because of having very young children or already having pets of his or her own. By choosing a different friend or relative you can ease the pressure on your adult child and it gives you the chance to make that choice yourself, rather than having it be decided under stressful circumstances later on.

2. Be sure to provide financial support for your pet. In most states, when you create a pet trust, you are permitted to instruct the trustee, the person in charge of handling the money in the trust, to make distributions to your pet’s caregiver on a monthly or annual basis. This can be done for either the remainder of your pet’s life or for 21 years, whichever is shorter. In some states, the cut-off is simply for the remainder of your pet’s life. This can be an important point if you have a less common type of pet, like a bird or lizard, who could live beyond 21 years after your death because their breed has a longer-than-average lifespan.

3. Comfort of your pet is important. Like many humans, your pet may have special medical needs, or personal preferences. You are allowed to put as many specific instructions as you wish into a pet trust. For example, you can state that the pet needs to see a certain veterinarian, for as long as that person is practicing, or that the pet needs to be seen two, three, or four times per year. You can also leave funds for a more expensive brand of food if your pet needs that brand. This can be important for many pet owners who want their companion to be comfortable after they are gone.

Are you interested in establishing a pet trust? Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.