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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Keep careful records when serving as estate executor

Getting named as the executor of a loved ones' estate is a dubious honor. On the one hand, someone trusted you enough to request that you personally see to it that the last will and estate plan get followed. On the other hand, there is a lot of responsibility involved in handling an estate.

The more assets your loved one left behind, the longer the process of settling an estate can take. Similarly, the more heirs there are, the more complicated the process of handling an estate may become. You want to ensure that everyone is happy with the outcome while still respecting the wishes of the deceased.

Planning ahead to safeguard your digital assets

It's a regular part of modern life. Someone buys a new Brevard County home and posts a photo-tour of the place on Facebook, right next to the pictures and proud boasting about their children and images of their adorable pets. The same sorts of sharing of adventures and triumphs goes on via Twitter and Instagram and other social media sites, of course.

But what happens to all of those photos and stories and more when the account-holder passes away? A recent Kiplinger article stresses the importance of securing your digital assets as part of the estate plan you create with a trusted attorney.

$700,000 placed in trust for baby girl

No matter what people think of the circumstances under which baseball star Jose Fernandez died last year, there is little doubt that everyone agrees that it is tragic that his three-month-old daughter never even got to meet her father.

Fernandez was killed in a September boating accident that apparently involved alcohol and drug abuse.

A life of grace and wealth comes to an end

She knew how to play the part of a stylish woman of wealth and sophistication. That is likely because Dina Merrill lived the role onscreen and off. The actress who died a few days ago at age 93 was known for a lithe elegance that befitted a career that spanned 5 decades. Merrill had supporting roles in a 1950s Tracy-Hepburn movie, as well as roles in films starring Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

Off the silver screen, she was known as an heiress with a rebellious streak. Her mother was heiress to the Post cereal fortune and her father was the namesake and founder of stockbroker firm E.F. Hutton. Her estate is apparently estimated to be worth approximately $5 billion.

How do I inventory and distribute my mother’s estate?

If you are the executor or personal representative of your mother's estate, you're probably dealing with a lot of legal responsibilities that you've never encountered before. These responsibilities can be overwhelming and stress-inducing. After all, you want to administer your mother's estate in the way that she wanted, while keeping your fellow family members happy.

Two of the most important steps of administering an estate relate to the inventorying of assets and liabilities, and the distributing of the assets.

Being an executor is so much responsibility: What are my options?

Let's say your father named you as the executor of his estate. Initially, you felt honored, but you've been looking over the estate paperwork, and now you're terrified. This is a lot of work. Your father's estate is complicated, he has a lot of assets to organize, and you don't understand the law very well.

You have two burning questions on your mind: (1) Can you refuse to serve as executor, and (2) if you do agree to administer the estate, will you get paid?

Don't put off peace of mind gained with estate planning

Regular readers of our Brevard County legal blog know that it is important to us to help people do what they can to minimize uncertainty and to secure the future for their families. We understand that few people are eager sit down and plan their estate, but we also know that the benefits of planning far outweigh any discomfort thoughts of death might bring.

Far too many people in Cocoa, Melbourne and surrounding communities put off the planning, telling themselves that they will take care of it one day soon. The result of that procrastination can be that your wishes are never carried out.

Protecting loved ones with special needs through estate planning

We create estate plans to express our wishes for how our personal property should be distributed when we pass. This also includes making sure that the people we care for will be taken care of if we are no longer able to. For special needs children and people who receive supplemental security income (SSI) leaving money or property may have unintended consequences.

Basically, federal rules prohibit SSI recipients from receiving benefits if they have more than $2000 in assets. So, a person in financial need could lose their benefits if they inherit money or assets. As such, caregivers must be strategic in this regard.  

Advice on how to protect a young family

We all went through it about a month ago: organizing and presenting financial documents to the federal government (aka filing our income tax returns). Another step in getting financially organized is to sit down with an estate planning attorney to put together a contingency strategy.

A recent article on the subject pointed out that it is often young families with kids who are least prepared to deal financially with the unexpected death or unanticipated incapacitation of a breadwinner. They often do not have tremendous wealth and impressive properties, but they have something even more valuable to protect: the future of their loved ones.

Taking care of your furry loved ones in your estate plan

Pets are much more furry companions. They are our loyal friends, sometimes our guides and sometimes our protectors, but always true and always there to cheer us. So it is no wonder that many Brevard County residents want to take care of their pets in their estate planning documents.

A recent column by an attorney in a Florida newspaper described some of the ways we can protect our pets, even after we have passed.

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