Florida parents may be able to gift parts of their estate to their children while they are still alive, but they should try to do so in a way that avoids paying additional taxes or creates other complications. For example, it is better to give assets that have not appreciated much as gifts because the child will not pay as much in future capital gains taxes when it is sold. Highly appreciated assets are best bequeathed after a person's death, as the basis is stepped up to the fair market value as of the date of death.
Parents might want to help their children out in buying a home by being on the mortgage, but this can mean the parents end up paying the mortgage themselves. It could also affect the parents' gift tax exemptions. Parents who do cosign on mortgages should set up clear expectations and boundaries with their children. Similarly, while setting up joint bank accounts might seem like the easiest way to ensure a child receives the money in the accounts, this can leave the assets vulnerable to a will challenge or creditors. Making the child a beneficiary of the account may be a better solution.
A trust for minor children or children who are young adults allows a parent to specify how and when assets are distributed. Parents may also want to take steps to protect assets from a child's spouse if the marriage is not stable.
Estate planning may not be as simple as naming beneficiaries and the assets an individual wants those beneficiaries to receive. As these points demonstrate, there may be other considerations ranging from taxes to how safe the assets might be from the beneficiary themselves or from others. Individuals may also want to update their estate plans regularly with the assistance of an attorney to make sure that they are current with tax law and any changes in the individual's family or assets.