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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Estate planning: avoid it at your loved ones' peril

The problem with estate planning is that if it is neglected, it can come back and haunt the people you love. And if the plans are not clear, the same problem will exist after you are gone: those you love will pay the price.

"People think, 'Oh, I have a simple life,' but you have to understand (that if) you make a mistake and you have unintended results, you can't bring the person back to sign a new will," said an attorney in a recent news article about estate planning.

The probate process and paying off the final bills

One of the most important duties of an estate executor involves the paying off of debts owed by the estate. These debts might include loans, credit card bills and tax debts.

The executor needs to determine the value of all the estate assets -- including investment accounts, cash accounts, insurance proceeds, real estate and valuable possessions -- and use those assets to pay off any debts.

The estate executor's action plan

If you are the executor of a deceased loved one's estate, you carry a lot of responsibility. There are several steps that you will need to carry out to successfully complete your duties.

What follows is a list of the typical duties of an estate representative or executor in Florida probate proceedings.

News report on medical debt turns into much more

If you drive nonstop northeast of Brevard County for a couple of days, you'll arrive in beautiful Seattle, Washington. The city is known for its Space Needle, rainy weather and Seahawks. is the site of a recent feel-good story about medical debt.

It is also where a TV station recently aired a news story about how people struggle with the burden of medical debt. KIRO took the story a step further: the station and its consumer reporter paid off $1.1 million of medical debt for about 1,000 people in the state of Washington.

The 5 steps of probate

Most Florida residents have never been involved in probate proceedings. However, if your deceased loved one named you as the executor of his or her estate, then this responsibility could fall on your shoulders -- even if you don't know anything about the process.

Not to fear, if you don't know what probate is, you're about to understand the basics of what's involved in probating an estate.

Experts: now is the time to pay off credit card debt

Debt levels are rising and so are interest rates. Experts say that the combination makes now the time to pay off your credit card debt.

The Federal Reserve recently said that U.S. consumer borrowing soared 8.8 percent in November, the biggest single-month jump in more than two years. While that news is a sign that consumer confidence is on an upswing, it's also a sign that many people are going to struggle with credit card debt.

ER visit leads to financial emergency

Medical debt is typically very different from other kinds of debt. No one chooses to become ill or to be injured in a car accident, fall or other mishap. In many cases of medical debt, the person who was sick or injured did not have health insurance, so there was no one to cover their medical costs.

In other situations, a person has insurance but their claim is denied. They're then saddled with hospital bills, doctor costs and medical debt as if they had no insurance. A recent news report says health insurers are increasingly denying coverage for emergency room visits unless the person is bleeding or having a stroke or heart attack or similar life-threatening emergency.

Credit card defaults are on the rise

The wrapping paper has been cleaned up, the tree taken down and the ornaments put away. Another holiday season is behind us, but for many Brevard County residents serious credit card problems are directly ahead.

According to news reports, credit card defaults are on the rise again. Experts say those holiday gift bills are coming due now, leading to the increase. They also blame a couple of unlikely suspects for the default escalation: an improving economy and rising consumer confidence.

3 ways to reduce hospital or medical debt fast

No one likes to be sick or to go to the doctor, but it is sometimes necessary. After feeling awful, the last thing you want to receive is the bill, but when it does come, it has to be addressed.

Medical bills have some of the highest costs and shocking totals. When you get a bill, you may think that you have no choice but to pay what's on the bill, but that's not completely true. Here are a few things to remember.

Medical debt cost her family almost everything

The story of one American family can by turns break your heart and fill you with hope. The tale began 11 years ago when a couple found out they were going to become parents of twins. They were happy to hear the news, but just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, the mom gave premature birth.

Sixteen weeks early, the boys weighed a little less than two pounds each. The thighs of the micro-preemies were smaller than her pinky finger, she remembers. The tiny babies were beset with a barrage of medical issues that included "brain hemorrhages, retinal complications, heart defects, cerebral palsy, blood infections, hernias, Rickets, jaundice and severely compromised lungs to name a few," the mother wrote recently for a newspaper.

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