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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Mistakes that can make grieving even worse for a surviving spouse

The death of a spouse can, of course be emotionally devastating. But there are estate planning mistakes that can make the grieving even worse for those left behind.

A Florida estate planning attorney interviewed by Forbes said that one of the most common shortfalls is that one spouse took care of the financial decisions and recordkeeping and after he or she passes, the other spouse and children don’t have any idea of where to start in sorting out the estate – or even where a checkbook or funds for a funeral might be.

Florida law prevents you from disinheriting your spouse

After being married for years or even decades, some couples grow apart instead of growing together. There are many issues that can deteriorate the spousal relationship, ranging from infidelity to substance abuse or just a change in personality. If one spouse becomes ill, they may resent the other spouse's seeming inability to provide a decent level of care. In some cases, someone with a serious illness may simply resent that their spouse is healthy and will outlive them.

Regardless of the reason why, some people choose to structure their last will or estate plan in a way that intentionally limits the inheritance of their spouse. Some people even attempt to leave everything to their children or a charity instead of providing anything for their spouse.

A year after Aretha's death, court takes over estate administration

Aretha Franklin died nearly a year ago. Unfortunately for her family, the late singer left behind no will to explain how her substantial assets would be distributed.

Many observers correctly predicted at the time that family members would soon be divided over how her estate would be handled. According to news reports, heated legal battles have broken out in courtrooms trying to sort out Franklin’s estate. In fact, the probate court recently asserted its control, placing estate administration under court supervision.

Wills and beneficiary designations are critical in an estate plan

All adults need to have an estate plan in place, however many think that they don't have enough assets or they are too young. Because you never know when something will happen, it is best to be prepared so that your family isn't left wondering what to do should the unthinkable happen.

When getting ready to create your plan, you will need to set up your will but there are some things that can't be included in it. Make sure that you have everything in so your wishes can be followed.

The role of undue influence in will contests, probate litigation

The old adage holds that the only things you can count on are death and taxes, but we know that’s not true. We can also count on gorgeous sunrises over our Brevard County beaches, annoying TV commercials, red lights when you’re in a hurry and losing track of stuff you put away for safekeeping.

Unfortunately, you can also count on improper behavior from the unscrupulous among us. In the case of estate planning, that impropriety can take the form of someone who uses deception or the application of pressure on another to get them to changes to a will or a trust, or to bestow large gifts. That unscrupulous conduct is often considered undue influence and can result in a will contest or other forms of probate litigation.

Can a life insurance policy be a substitute for a Florida will?

Estate planning is both a simple and complex thing. It is not difficult to sit down with a Brevard County attorney and create a will. But because Florida law is complex, it takes study and experience to know which estate planning tools should be used to protect you, your assets and your loved ones in ways that a will cannot.

People sometimes hope that minimal steps they have taken can be effective substitutes for writing a will, creating a revocable trust, health care power of attorney or other crucial estate planning documents.

Tips for talking about estate planning with your parents

As your parents age, you may begin to worry about their well-being and what will happen when they pass on. It's never easy to deal with these thoughts, but taking action is the responsible thing to do.

Talking about estate planning with your parents is easier said than done, as you don't want to risk saying the wrong thing and giving them the wrong impression about your intentions.

Can a revocable living trust help to avoid Florida probate?

As regular readers of our Brevard County Legal Blog know, we recently wrote in this space about why a revocable living trust might be right for you and your family. We know from past experience that many people understand that probate can be a long, difficult and expensive process that adds to a family’s burden in a difficult time, but they are not sure how a revocable trust helps to avoid probate.

First, let’s quickly remind readers who might have missed that previous post that a revocable trust is a document you create with your estate planning attorney to manage your assets during your lifetime and to distribute them after you have passed on.

Do you need to update your will?

Creating a will is one of the most important steps you can take in your adult life, offering your loved ones and beneficiaries clear understanding of your wishes for your property and your legacy. Once you create your will, you may feel some relief, but it is important to understand that your will requires occasional maintenance in order to remain effective.

Several significant life events may change your wishes or complicate your will, so it is important to update the will document when you encounter these changes. While having your will in place is certainly better than having no will properly written, updates help protect your rights in Florida and keep your wishes clear.

Why a revocable trust might be right for you and your family

It is simply true that the vast majority of people who have accumulated substantial financial assets in Brevard County did not do so by accident. Rather, they worked hard, saved, invested wisely or ran a successful business.

It is also no accident that when they want to protect their families and assets, they sit down with an estate planning attorney to create a revocable living trust.

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