Tag: Estate Plan

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.

Tips for Creating a Loving Legacy for Your Children This Valentine’s Day

Do you enjoy giving your adult children gifts on Valentine’s Day? Most of us do. This year, though, are you trying to look for a gift that will show them how much you love them and care about their future?

A gift that will show your love and concern for their future can be accomplished in many ways. As we move forward through the month of February and beyond, we would like to share a few ways that you can plan to protect your family and create a loving legacy that will provide for them in the future, especially this Valentine’s Day.

1. Put a plan in place to protect your legacy from long-term care costs. The cost of long-term care for Older Americans is expected to rise. It is, therefore, important that you be prepared now to afford the long-term care that you may need in the future. This is critical so that your spouse and children are not left struggling to find answers or to have to pay the long-term care costs. Floridians must realize that the failure to plan can cost them their goals for the legacy they create for their children.

We encourage you to develop the planning needed with your loved ones and discuss shared goals for long-term care. A vital next step in the development of your plan is to meet and speak to an experienced estate planning attorney. Most estate planning attorneys are also knowledgeable about elder law issues, and will understand your goals and needs and can help you prepare the appropriate planning documents.

2. Planning to retire soon? You can still start right now to leave a legacy for your children. As you consider the legacy you want to leave behind, find out whether retirement will impact your legacy and also how your long-term care plan could be affected.

Retirement can bring you and your loved ones many changes. Creating an estate plan is one of the best ways to ensure that your children have a clear understanding of how you want to use your retirement savings, as well as how you want it to provide for them and their families in the future. This is the way you can begin to create your legacy, which is how you will both protect yourself and your family’s future. Plan now, not later, to create a legacy for your children so that they are protected in the event something happens to you.

3. By creating your planning documents early you can define your legacy and discuss it with your loved ones. Do you want to ensure your loved ones are well taken care of in the event of your passing or sudden incapacity? Create an estate plan! In addition, it is a way to prepare for your own care as you get older. With your estate plan your family will know the legacy that you have created.

We urge you to not be like so many others and put off this type of planning until it is too late. Be very aware that without the ability to make decisions, you cannot be involved in any planning for yourself or create your own documents. By choosing to not move forward with your planning you may leave your family vulnerable in a crisis. Further, it is not enough to simply make your estate plans, your planning needs to be discussed with your loved ones. This will give them the peace to know that you have an estate plan and now they know what you want for the future.

These are just a few of the ways you can plan to protect your family and make the plans you need to provide for them when you are gone. As we reflect on Valentine’s Day and show those in your life the ways you love them, now is the time to get started. Preparation is key to successful planning and to help you accomplish your goals. 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.

6 Questions to Ask When You Update Your Estate Plan in the New Year

The New Year is here and the holidays are coming to an end. As the month of January gets underway, we know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. What are your resolutions? Did you focus on work? Or health? Or family?

No matter what you choose, we want to let you know that one of the most important New Year’s Resolutions you can make this year is to create your Florida estate plan. Your estate plan can protect you both during life and at the time of your death. During your life, you can work with your attorney to create a plan that ensures your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. Your attorney will also show you how you can ensure that your family will be provided for when you are no longer here with them.

Already have an estate plan? While this is great news, if you already have a plan in place, time is of the essence to ensure it reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. Many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances in a year. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only encapsulating the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.

How do you get started? Let us share six questions to ask yourself and your Florida estate planning attorney as you work on your Florida estate plan in the new year.

1. Should I update my plan if my immediate family members have changed? Yes! When there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, you should make it a priority to work with your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. Have the laws changed? This is an important question to ask your attorney. She stays up to date with all the latest information that could impact your legal planning and can make recommendations if your current plan needs to be changed.

3. Am I really unprotected if I do not have a Florida estate plan? You most certainly are. In the event of a crisis or death, there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. When we do not take the time to create an estate plan the court in Florida may be required to in order for there to be legal authority for another to act on your behalf. This can be time consuming, costly, and public, and can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.

4. What does a Florida estate plan really do? A Florida estate plan employs a variety of legal planning tools to address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity, among other things.

5. When should I get started with creating a plan or updating it? As soon as you possibly can. To maximize the potential benefits a Florida estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.

6. What will my Florida estate planning attorney discuss with me? She can discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning using tools such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. She can help you choose your decision maker, as well as back up decision maker, for times of crisis. She can also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s Resolution of having a Florida estate plan that can meet your needs. 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 Best Gift You Can Make This Holiday Season

Have you realized that in just a few short weeks, it will be 2022? Even with the persisting pandemic adding a layer to our plans, for most of us, we are busy finalizing our end of the year plans, purchasing last minute holiday gifts, and making plans to spend time with family. This is the perfect time to take stock of what has happened this year, as well as reflect on your goals for the coming year. For example, what went well and what could we improve on.

As we reflect on the past year and look to the future, do you have goals for yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy? We encourage you to take the time to not only think about the immediate actions that must be completed before the end of the year, but that you also think about what the future may hold for you. While you may be rushing to complete a shopping list of holiday gifts for your family, consider that completing or updating your Florida estate plan may be the best gift you can give them.

Do you have a current Florida estate plan? As a Florida senior, you may have many questions. For instance, who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself? If you are in a car accident, who will have the legal authority to pay your bills? Who could handle your business affairs if you could not? Should both your adult children be in charge of your finances? Will your retirement plans be able to support you as you age?

We hear questions like these, and more, from our clients and their family members each day. Remember that old adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Based on our experience, when it comes to Florida estate planning, you need to know your plan will work when you need it to. This holiday season, a completed Florida estate plan is quite possibly the best gift you can give to your loved ones.

In addition, while Florida estate planning is a critical part of your health and well being, we want you to know that there is a second planning component that needs to be addressed and completed as well. It is your elder law planning, which includes long-term care. After they reach the age of 70, the majority of Americans will need some form of long-term care. Much of this care is not covered by Medicare and will fall on the Florida senior to pay for out of pocket. With prior planning we can assure you it does not have to be this way. We can work with you to not only create an estate plan but also a long-term care plan that can protect the estate plan you are putting in place and allow you to be able to leave a legacy for your family, no matter what the future holds.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. You are welcome to contact our law practice now, or at any time throughout the year, and schedule a meeting to make sure you have the Florida legal planning you need to accomplish your goals.