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VanNess & VanNess, P.A.
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Why unmarried partners might need estate plans

There are a number of reasons that unmarried couples living together in Florida might want to create an estate plan. Without the proper documents in place, if one person is injured or ill and becomes incapacitated, the other partner is not legally entitled to make medical decisions. If one person dies, the other partner may not be entitled to any of the couple's shared possessions because if there is no estate plan, the state distributes assets to the next of kin.

Keeping the family informed while planning an estate

Open communication can be one of the most important steps for Florida families when preparing an estate plan. Vehicles like certain types of trusts, life insurance investments and family limited partnerships can be important mechanisms for wealth transfer across generations.

Protection offered by IRA trusts

Florida residents who are creating an estate plan may want to consider an IRA trust for their retirement account. These types of trust have become more popular since 2014 when the Supreme Court ruled that inherited IRAs were not protected from creditors. However, there may other reasons to use an IRA trust as well. It can also prevent beneficiaries from irresponsibly spending money that they come into suddenly. Although rules differ for workplace retirement plans, an IRA trust can also be the beneficiary on those plans. Beneficiary designations on retirement accounts should be current since these override other instructions.

Tips for creating an estate plan

An estate plan is important for all Florida adults even if they do not have a large amount of assets. It can be important to family and loved ones who will be saved the stress of dealing with these details. An estate plan can also be used to help reduce family conflict. These may be over a particular piece of property, or they might be long-standing resentments around family dynamics. An estate planner may be able to assist a client in anticipating those conflicts and putting provisions in the estate plan that address them.

Same-sex partner estate planning

While it benefits all Florida couples to have an estate plan prepared, there are a few reasons it is especially important for same-sex couples. For example, same-sex partners might need powers of attorney in addition to wills so that a partner can act on one's behalf if necessary.

How to make use of a Letter of Final Wishes

Florida residents may have a will as part of their estate plan. However, it may be necessary to include other documents, including a Letter of Final Wishes, with a plan. This letter may be the best place to include information that has no place in or is inappropriate to put into the will itself. For instance, it may include information as to where the estate holder wants to be buried or who should be notified of that person's passing.

Creating a spendthrift trust

Florida residents who are creating an estate plan may be concerned about leaving money to an adult child or another loved one who they believe may be financially irresponsible. One possible solution for this is a spendthrift thrust. This type of trust might also protect assets from third party creditors. For example, if a beneficiary files for bankruptcy, the money in a spendthrift trust may not be accessible to creditors unless it is distributed within 180 days after the bankruptcy filing.

The advantages of including trusts in estate plans

When Florida residents put an estate plan in place, they are often primarily concerned with ensuring that their assets will be passed to their heirs in accordance with their wishes. While this can be accomplished by drafting a last will and testament, adding trusts to an estate plan provides people with a number of important advantages. Trusts allow estates to avoid the time consuming and public probate process, they can prevent heirs from losing assets to their creditors and they can also reduce the amount of estate tax that must be paid.

How an estate tax repeal might change an estate plan

Some Florida residents might wonder how they should change their estate plan if the federal estate tax is repealed. People with large estates who anticipate having to pay some estate tax have most likely designed their plan with this in mind. Reviewing the documents and considering how removing the estate tax would change them means that a person can be ready to make those changes quickly and efficiently if the law changes.

Keeping wealth in the family

Florida residents who are creating an estate plan might be concerned about keeping the wealth in the family and protecting it in case one of their children gets a divorce. The first step may be to simply to discuss the estate plan and the need to preserve wealth with family members. Children may want to get a prenuptial agreement before they marry that specifies that the inheritance is not marital property, but a prenup must be entered into freely.

VanNess & VanNess, P.A.