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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

What is the purpose of the probate process?

When a loved one dies, there are a lot of things that you have to handle. The most immediate for many people is setting up the person's final arrangements. This entails planning the funeral and getting the burial or cremation taken care of. You also have to think about handling the estate. This is done through the probate process.

The purpose of probate is to distribute assets to heirs. It is also meant to pay for bills owed if there are sufficient assets in the estate to do this. The estate administrator is the person who handles these duties.

Big estate-planning change coming to Florida law

We are in the last days of 2019, so brace yourself for the annual media tradition of looking back at the biggest stories, tragedies and surprises of the year. While those kinds of articles can be useful and even entertaining, our goal in this installation of our Brevard County legal blog is to look ahead a big change in Florida law that is just days away.

Our state’s Electronic Documents Act takes effect on the first day of the new year. It will transform the way we execute and save estate planning documents by eliminating needs for pens, papers and getting the testator, witnesses and notary public together in the same room at the same time.

Have a good day – and much more

Everyone wants to have a good day, and at the beginning of the year, everyone wanted to have a good 2019. We all want more than that, however. People want a good retirement and a good, long life. But many people stop there, when in reality they can have more, including a good end of life.

Estate planning is about putting in place a strategy to manage end-of-life risks and making arrangements for your assets and family for when you’re gone.

A look at President Trump’s move to Florida

President Trump recently announced a change in his life that many people of a certain age and certain level of wealth make: he said he has moved his permanent residence to Florida.

While he tweeted that his lifelong home state of New York “will always have a special place” in his heart, his new state has something special too: no state income tax and no state inheritance and estate taxes.

Here are 4 things you may want to include in your will

If you think it's time to sit down and draw up a will, then it's also time to talk about what you should include in your will. A good will has many pieces of information, such as a list of your assets and bank accounts, guardianship assignments for minors and documents that your loved ones may need.

If you haven't started building your will yet but want to know more about how you should prepare, your attorney can give you specifics based on your particular case. The following are some things you may want to include in your will.

Complexities and complications of Florida probate administration

Regular readers of our Brevard County legal blog know that we often write about the court-supervised process that identifies, gathers and distributes assets after a person’s death. Florida probate does more than that, however.

Probate also ensures that the late person’s debts are paid off. That means that if you’re the estate executor or personal representative, you are required to give notice of probate proceedings to “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, the Florida Bar says.

Don't make missteps in your estate planning process

Your estate plan is a comprehensive set of instructions about what you want to do with your assets when you pass away. The plan is subject to compliance with applicable laws, so you must ensure that yours is fully enforceable so that your loved ones can count on it when they need it.

There are several missteps that you can make when you are getting this together. Arm yourself with information to avoid these mistakes. Your estate planning attorney can help to ensure that you have it all in order.

One of many reasons why billionaires like Florida

Many of our regular Brevard County legal blog readers know that Florida does not have an estate tax. For some residents (especially those who have significant assets), that tax’s absence is one of the reasons they moved to the Sunshine State, or why they never moved away.

A recent Forbes article is likely to reinforce estate-tax-related affections. The publication pointed out that those who were on the Forbes 400 list back in 2001 had by 2017 saved $80.7 billion by moving to states that do not have state estate taxes.

Is your will overdue for an overhaul?

As we move through life, we all encounter events that have far-reaching impacts we may not see at first. If we do not pay attention to significant life events when they occur, this may cause complications later on, for ourselves and for others. One of the best ways to prepare for the unexpected is through creating a will and an estate plan and keeping these documents updated as we pass through major life changes.

Simply creating a will and leaving it in the file folder or safe is certainly better than having no will at all, but to make the most of the protections and advantages that a will offers, you must review the document and amend it when your circumstances change. Otherwise, your will may outline outdated preferences that conflict with your most recent, relevant wishes when you pass away or become incapacitated. Not only does this draw out the process of distributing your property to your beneficiaries, it can cause long-lasting conflicts among the ones you love after you are gone.

Devising a plan to make an estate plan

Which would your family rather do: spend the day at Cocoa Riverfront Park or discuss estate planning? Tour the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science or discuss the inevitability of mortality? The answers are probably pretty obvious – we would all prefer entertaining distractions to discussions of what will happen when you are gone.

However, a recent article in a Florida newspaper made an excellent point about the value of looking ahead: “Estate planning can be an immense blessing to any family at a time of great loss.”

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