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Planning ahead helps you avoid legal, tax problems

Your homestead, your 401(k), the cash in your bank account, your life insurance policy and your closely held business interests. They are all assets you have worked long and hard to acquire, but each should be considered separately when you are sitting down to figure out how to distribute your assets in an estate plan.

Each of these asset categories have different legal and tax considerations that should be evaluated with your estate planning attorney before you write your will or create a trust.

A USA Today news article penned by an estate planning attorney about five hours southwest of Brevard County states that Florida law limits your homestead options in a will or trust. If you’re married (and don’t have a prenuptial agreement), you have to leave your homestead to your spouse.

So if you want to bequeath it to someone else, you should discuss with your lawyer a limited nuptial agreement that makes it possible to carry out your wish.

The asset category that includes your 401(k), IRA, pension and profit-sharing plan has tax consequences to consider. If you leave these assets to your spouse, he or she can roll them into his or her own account. But if you want to bequeath the assets to someone else, they are going to inherit some tax liabilities that should be addressed with your attorney so that the tax pain can be minimized.

An experienced, knowledgeable lawyer can help you distribute your assets in ways that will benefit you and your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

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