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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Tips for creating a will that won’t spark family arguments

If only all families were perfect: If everyone got along perfectly and agreed on everything, then there would be no need to worry when creating your will. However, no family is perfect. Siblings and other relatives who usually get along just fine may come to loggerheads when it comes to a loved one’s estate.

When creating your will, you may find yourself pulled in different directions by the people you love. You want to satisfy everyone, but you know that this is impossible. When you are planning your estate, these are a few helpful tips that you can use to avoid family feuds.

A difficult situation fraught with difficult choices

One of the many benefits of estate planning is that it helps people get through some of life’s most difficult times. We read recently a letter a man wrote to his local newspaper with a question that was both interesting and heartbreaking.

He writes that his wife was diagnosed with dementia a decade ago at age 58. Though he kept her at home for years, her care was becoming financially unsupportable. They had spent $800,000 on her care since the diagnosis and he was forced to move her into a Medicaid-licensed facility though she is not yet on the federal and state program. Because his wife just received an inheritance, he wants to know if that inheritance will be affected if and when she does go on Medicaid.

Can disinheritance be a good thing?

When most people hear the word “disinheritance,” they imagine a family rift that caused a parent to write a child out of the will. In some cases, this is true. A parent may feel the need to disinherit a spendthrift child to prevent them from squandering the family fortune. An argument may prompt someone to disinherit their kin. But in other cases, disinheritance is a useful tool that can actually help protect a beloved child’s inheritance.

Disinheriting a child

What are the most important benefits of a well-planned estate?

Everyone seems to know that an estate plan is not something that you should delay. In fact, the sooner you complete your estate plan the better because we never know when our last breath will be. The last thing you want to do to your family is to leave them scrambling to make sense of your estate and your wishes after you're gone.

To encourage you to get off the couch and finalize your estate plan -- if you've been loath to complete this task -- here are some of the benefits you will receive by doing so:

Time to share news about how to pass on a timeshare

People from all over the nation have purchased timeshares here in Florida. From Cocoa to Orlando and from Miami to Jacksonville (and all places in between), timeshares are to be had for those wanting to escape the cold for a warm beach. Of course, Brevard County residents also buy timeshares in exotic spots around the U.S., including Hawaii, Colorado and California.

A recent news article delved into one of the problems with timeshares: what to do with them in estate plans and how to ensure no one gets stuck with timeshare obligations they don’t want.

Why a personalized will matters

Part of the human experience is being there for friends and family. They help us when needed and we do the same in return. We look out for one another. This continues after death: sharing assets, wealth or family heirlooms. Many people use a will to share with their children, spouse or close friends. If you have no will, the state of Florida oversees what happens to your possessions.

Life is unpredictable, yet studies report that up to 60 percent of Americans do not have a will or estate plan of any kind. By having a plan, it’s possible to protect loved ones from financial hardship, share assets without government interference, and to establish health care priorities and decision-making roles if you need to.

Strategies for reducing estate taxes

It can be a shock for some Brevard County residents. They sit down their estate planning attorney to discuss passing on sizable assets and discover that taxes will take a big bite out of their estate.

A recent business journal news article urges people to learn about ways in which those tax burdens can be significantly reduced.

What should a basic will include?

Even the poorest person who barely has any personal assets can benefit from drafting and signing a will -- or at the very least -- the individual's surviving close family members will benefit. If you've decided to complete your will, here are the various clauses a basic will should include.

Funeral expenses and debt payments: This clause should allow your executor to pay for funerary expenses, hospital costs and court costs from the estate while protecting your estate from unenforceable debts.

Burt Reynolds left his son out of will – for good reasons

If you drive south of Cocoa along the coast for about two hours, you will arrive in Jupiter, Florida, a city known for its glamorous mix of residents that includes both sports and entertainment industry celebrities. The most well-known of the stars calling Jupiter home was Burt Reynolds, the popular actor who recently passed away.

The star of “Deliverance,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and dozens of other films in a career that stretched over decades found his way back into headlines when it was revealed that he left his son out of his will. While some observers thought that meant Reynolds harbored some sort of issue with his 30-year-old son, it quickly became apparent that the actor took advantage of the benefits of a trust to pass his wealth on.

Choose your best estate executor

The person who manages your estate after you're gone – your executor – plays the most important role when it comes to ensuring that your carefully planned estate is adhered to. For this reason, you'll want to be very careful when selecting who will fulfill this responsibility.

Fortunately, by following the advice below, you can avoid common mistakes and choose your best executor:

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