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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Whom should you name as your power of attorney?

Naming a power of attorney is easier said than done, since you have a seemingly endless number of options. While you can name almost anyone you want, you don't want to make a rash decision that could end up negatively impacting you or your loved ones in the future.

Most people select a spouse, adult child, relative or close friend to act as their power of attorney. As you compare your options, you should focus on the person who is best suited to take on the many tasks often bestowed upon a power of attorney.

Do I need an estate plan if I don’t have children?

Some adults choose to have children; others choose not to. If you are an adult without children, you have the benefit of controlling more of your free time and having more disposable income in your pocket. However, you have additional concerns that do not trouble parents. For example, you might sometimes wonder to whom you will leave your assets after you die.

You might believe that because you do not have to divide your estate among children, you do not need an estate plan. This is false—every adult needs an estate plan, even if you do not have kids.

Will I have to pay my deceased loved one’s debts?

No one wants to think about mortality, especially that of their loved ones. However, death is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes, thinking about it in advance can go a long way toward making the inevitable less difficult.

One factor that you should consider if you have a loved one who is elderly or ill is their finances—particularly their debts. If your loved one passes away and leaves behind debt, what will happen to it? And will you have to pay it yourself?

Estate planning tips: 2019 edition

We’re still in the early days of 2019 with opportunities aplenty to address matters neglected in the past year. Many Brevard County residents understand that the time to address estate planning is now.

Not only is thoughtful estate planning affordable, but it can have an enormous impact on the future financial health of your loved ones. It can also help to address and resolve tax liability issues you face today. So let’s take a look at some estate planning tips for this still-young year.

What can an irrevocable trust do for you?

There are many estate planning tools available to help individuals preserve their assets and provide for others long after they are gone. In most cases, an estate plan includes some form of trust, which holds assets and protects them from legal challenges and excessive taxation. However, trusts come in many forms, and each type of trust serves a specific purpose. While having some form of trust is typically better than not using a trust at all, it is always important to choose a trust with strengths and features that match your needs and priorities.

An irrevocable trust can provide some of the strongest protections available in any form of trust, but this security comes with a significant caveat. Once you create an irrevocable trust, you cannot alter its terms. If you suspect that an irrevocable trust is a good fit for your needs, be sure to carefully review all the issues at hand before finalizing it. Otherwise, you may run into unavoidable complications in the future.

Do you have a plan in place to reduce your estate tax liability?

You have spent a lifetime building up your assets and establishing yourself. Whether you make your money off of investments, a business you started or a salary, you have already paid taxes to the state and to the federal government on the money you earned. That's one of many reasons why people find the concept of an estate tax so offensive.

Individuals pay taxes on their income, and then their heirs and family members may have to pay additional tax on the money they leave behind for loved ones. Estate taxes only impact those with substantial assets. The good news -- for those who have large estates -- is that it is possible to plan carefully and avoid, if not eliminate, estate tax liabilities for the people you love and hope to provide for in the future.

Estate planning mistakes to avoid

One of the most important parts of life is to learn from the mistakes we make so that we can avoid making those same errors again. It is also important to share information with family members and friends so that they can learn from our mistakes, too, and likewise avoid taking those same missteps.

In that spirit, we offer the advice recently offered by an estate planning attorney who is determined to help clients and others avoid the errors she has seen over the years.

The time is right in 2019 to secure the future for your family

Every 12 months, it happens like clockwork: the calendar loses a page and a new year begins. Now that you find yourself in 2019, it's time to take a few moments to think about how you can prepare a better future for your family.

There are a few simple and cost-effective steps you can take to ensure that your estate plan protects you, your assets, and most importantly, your family.

Why you might fund a spendthrift trust for one of your heirs

If you are the parent of adult children, you may be struggling to plan the fair distribution of your estate given the wide spectrum of aptitude and abilities of the heirs. For instance, some of your brood may be quite responsible and sober-minded while one or two others have trod quite far off of life's beaten path.

When such is the case and you have children with wildly disparate ideas about how to manage money and meet their financial commitments, you might have to engage in a little creative estate planning.

Should art be a part of your estate plan?

To paraphrase an old saying, one person's art can be another person's trash. Not everyone is smitten with the Mona Lisa, for instance, and some people adore and others loath the reality-bending Cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso. While taste and preferences are entirely subjective, there is no doubt that the Spanish master's works are worth millions of dollars.

At a Florida recent wealth planning conference, estate planning attorneys, financial advisers and art collectors gathered to discuss the challenges and benefits of collecting and passing valuable assets on to the next generation.

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