VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Avoiding common estate planning problems

Florida residents who have been married previously may have complications regarding their estate plan. Heirs may encounter difficulty accepting a share given to a new spouse, and careful estate planning can be thwarted in these situations.

When considering estate planning, one important but often forgotten topic is how to treat personal belongings. While much care may be taken regarding real property and how this property is to be divided between a new spouse and descendants, many times the testator may not take the same care with distributing personal belongings. However, heirs may have particular associations with certain items due to their sentimental value. Even when personal belongings are listed in the will, it may be difficult to show that heirs have a right to them because they may find it difficult to show that the sterling silver belonged to their father and not their new stepmother. Some relatives react to a death by quickly going into the home and claiming items that they believe the decedent intended them to have these items. If the spouses moved from one state to another state, community property rules may apply.

In order to avoid these estate planning woes, there are steps that a person may choose to make with legal assistance. For example, a prenuptial agreement may provide clarity if the new marriage has not yet occurred. After a new marriage, it is important to update the beneficiary designation forms on certain accounts so that they reflect the person that the owner wants to inherit the asset.

Individuals who are concerned about how a new marriage will affect their estate plan may decide to contact an estate planning attorney. Legal counsel can assist in conducting a review and then determine which documents need to be revised.

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