Main Menu
VanNess & VanNess, P.A.
Toll Free: 866-697-6221 Local: 352-436-4333 Over 100 years of combined experience

Prince heirs still waiting to collect money from estate

According to a news report, the heirs of former rock star Prince have not yet received their inheritances. Prince had an estate worth approximately $200 million when he died. Florida residents may be interested in learning that Prince never established an estate plan. He never even wrote out his last will and testament. Consequently, settling the estate is stalled by the fact that the executor does not agree with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the estate's actual value.

The state of Minnesota and the IRS have already received payments from the celebrity's estate. The executor of the estate has received about $5.9 million for fees and other expenses, which are expected to multiply in the future. The system may not seem fair, but people who die without creating legal wills or trusts may end up in similar predicaments, especially if they accumulated wealth. The counsel of an attorney may help someone develop a sound estate plan.

How to create a proper estate plan

Florida residents may not like the thought of reviewing their estate plans; for many people, thinking about their deaths isn't a pleasant experience. However, failing to review an estate plan could result in gaps that make it harder for a person to have his or her final instructions carried out. By reviewing an estate plan regularly, individuals can be sure that their beneficiary designations are up to date.

Reviewing an estate plan can reduce the odds of family infighting as well by determining who gets to claim ownership of family heirlooms. These heirlooms could include anything from an engagement ring to an art collection. While reviewing an estate plan, a person should also review any life insurance policy that he or she has. Doing so can reduce the chances that the policy lapses or otherwise no longer meets a person's needs.

Modern estate plans include access to digital assets

Email accounts, social media profiles and cryptocurrency are just some of the more common digital assets for people in Florida. Someone building an estate plan should include information about how to access online data because finding passwords after a death can prove difficult for heirs. To start the process, an estate holder should write a list of all online accounts and their login credentials.

The list should include information about passwords for all of a person's devices, including any smartphones. In addition, it's important to include online accounts such as cloud storage sites, password-protected files and registered web domains. After taking inventory of digital assets, the estate holder would then consider who will attend to them. Someone who understands digital assets and computers might make a good choice as the executor of digital assets.

Plan ahead to help loved ones grieve

Even the healthiest Pennsylvania residents know they will eventually pass away. Loved ones left without clear directions may have difficulty in determining the way forward regarding assets and belongings of the deceased. With even limited estates, it is common for surviving relatives to have extended disagreements regarding distribution of assets. A carefully considered estate plan can eliminate confusion, prevent squabbles and help loved ones grieve by knowing the exact wishes of deceased loved ones.

Most individuals are aware that a will is essential to estate planning. A carefully considered and regularly updated will is key, but there are other elements to a good estate plan. While a will dictates distribution of assets after passing, a living will, power of attorney and advance medical directive give guidance regarding end-of-life decisions in the event a person becomes incapacitated. In addition to having discussions with loved ones, a written and notarized plan put in place before medical emergencies arise is the most prudent path to insuring one's end-stage wishes are followed. Giving a copy of medical directives to treating physicians and hospital providers is also a good idea.

Handling spousal debts after death

People in Florida may be wondering how best to care for and protect their spouses after they pass away, especially with the many estate planning options available. One concern that many have is how debts will be handled after their death. There is a great deal of confusion about what, if any, liability a surviving spouse may have for their late partner's debts.

When a person passes away, their debts become the responsibility of their estate. Debts that belong to a person will be paid out of the property and money they leave behind as part of their estate as it goes through the probate process. Spouses do not have an automatic responsibility for their partner's debts during their lifetime or after they pass away. A spouse is responsible for jointly held debts like joint mortgages or credit cards. Of course, a surviving spouse can still experience a cost as a result of debts; if they are to inherit the bulk of their spouse's estate, a significant portion may be taken up with debt repayment.

Human learning could make autonomous vehicles less safe

Florida drivers may wait longer than predicted for autonomous vehicles to become common the roads if the analysis of one computer professor turns out to be correct. According to the professor, the major error of those researching and building autonomous vehicles is that the vehicles are learning human driving behavior. The professor says this inherently makes the vehicles less safe.

Aviral Shrivastava, is a computer science associate professor at Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Arizona is where a self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian in March. Video shows that the road was dark and the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk. According to the professor, the problem in that accident is that the car behaved like a human driver, proceeding along the road despite the darkness. He says that an autonomous car should only travel at a speed that allows it to stop within its range of vision. In other words, the car should have been driving as though there was an obstacle in the road outside of the area it could detect.

Errors to avoid in an estate plan

While a Florida resident may have an estate plan, that plan may not necessarily be effective. For example, the estate plan could be missing some components. In addition to a will, an estate holder should consider financial and health care powers of attorney that appoint someone to manage finances and health in case of incapacitation.

It is also important to include instructions about what should happen to personal effects. There may be as much or more conflict over sentimental items as items of monetary value. Furthermore, estate holders may want to check their beneficiary designations on retirement accounts since this can be a more efficient way to pass on assets. If a friend or relative has been appointed as trustee, the estate holder might want to reconsider this. Trust management is often better handled by a professional.

How daylight saving time affects driving

Daylight saving time means that Florida residents lose one hour of sleep, and this, in turn, could mean increased drowsiness, especially among drivers. A traffic safety study from AAA has shown that nearly 10 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. are caused by drowsy driving. A new study from the same organization suggests a link between this deadly form of negligence and the advent of daylight saving time.

The important thing to know, of course, is how to adjust to the changes. AAA recommends, first of all, that everyone get to bed one hour earlier to make up for the loss until their bodies are back on schedule. On the road, drivers should be on the lookout for other drivers who may be drowsy. When changing lanes, for instance, drivers should always double-check their blind spots and use their turn signals.

Organization is key in life and death

Florida residents and others may make it easier to settle an estate by being organized. This is true of both the physical estate and the legal or financial documents that are part of it. Instead of letting items accumulate over time, it may be a good idea to have a regular cleaning session. This may prevent children or other family members from having to inventory possessions while also trying to grieve.

In most cases, future generations aren't interested in items that may hold sentimental value to an individual today. Furthermore, charities may be particular about what they take as some items can't be sold or otherwise moved in a timely manner. Those who have 401(k) accounts or other financial documents with multiple institutions should consider consolidating them into one location. It could also be worthwhile to sell off minor investments to create a streamlined portfolio.

How trusts benefit children of all ages

There is no magic age at which an individual in Florida or elsewhere becomes competent enough to handle money or other assets. Therefore, there may be no harm in leaving assets to an adult child in a trust as opposed to transferring them directly to that older son or daughter. By leaving assets in a trust, it can protect them from creditors or from being included in a divorce settlement.

While a person may hire a financial adviser, there is no guarantee that this adviser will be a good one. With a trust, there is someone who a parent already has faith in to manage the money left behind to future generations. It is important to note that the trust may be written in as narrow or as broad manner as an individual wishes. This means that the trust could allow for regular distributions to ensure that the child's needs are met.

VanNess & VanNess, P.A.