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Boca Raton Estate Planning, Probate & Real Estate Blog

How to pick the right real estate agent

The largest single transaction most Americans make involves the buying or selling of a home. This makes it essential to have the right real estate agent, particularly when the clients are snowbirds who live in other parts of the country for part of the year. According to Forbes, the number of real estate agents is forecasted to grow annually by 6% through 2026, which means there are going to be more choices.

The right real estate agent understands the needs of the client and provides insight and support throughout the process to ensure that good deals do not fall apart. The wrong real estate agent is one who does not understand the intricacies of the market where a client is looking to buy or sell, and they can even delay or allow deals to fall through due to incompetence or too many priorities.

Estate planning issues for the recently widowed

It is common for wives to live longer than their husbands. According to a CNN report, the difference now averages five years, with men living to 76.1 years and women living to 81.1 years. So a wife will likely live for a time without their husband.

It also is worth noting that an estimated 85% of baby boomer women claim they lack the financial planning skills to make the right decisions, and 56% leave all financial decisions to their husbands when he was alive.

Is Aretha Franklin’s handwritten will valid?

The legendary Aretha Franklin died last August, leaving an estate worth an estimated $80 million. At the time, her lawyer said that there was no will, which prompted the singer’s four sons to battle over money and control of an estate that will continue to generate millions of dollars well into the foreseeable future.

Then a search of her suburban Detroit home in May of this year yielded wills, one dating from 2014 and two from 2010. Some papers were found under the pillow of a couch, while others were in a locked cabinet.

Transferring digital assets to loved ones

People are starting to hear the phrase “digital assets” more often, but many do not know what they are. Digital assets can be anything in the digital format, but these are usually things of sentimental value (photos, social media accounts, or email accounts) or assets that have financial worth (Bitcoins or digital currency, intellectual property, reward points on credit cards or airlines, or web sites that generate income).

The same but different

Estate plans for blended families

The divorce rate here in the United States has gone down in recent years, but still hovers above 40%. So, it should be no surprise that many out there drafting or updating estate plans will need to consider second or third spouses, stepchildren and other circumstances unique to a blended family.

We all hope that the second marriage is as harmonious and fun as the "Brady Bunch" or the "Yours, Mine and Ours" movies, but this is not always the case. If that is the tone currently, do not assume that it will remain so over years and changing circumstances.

Options for addressing a real estate contract breach

Individuals or parties sign real estate contracts for leases of commercial spaces, buying or selling houses, providing subcontractor services and for other business transactions. Ideally, the sides honor the contract agreement and everyone is happy. However, this is not always the case and sometimes the law is even broken. The contract will have language to address a breach, but the reality of solving the issue may lead to different conclusions.

Avoiding court

More common mistakes involving estate planning

It is important to plan for the ideal future, but to also have contingencies in place if (and when) the story deviates from the desired narrative. This is where estate planning comes in – it enables individuals and couples to plan for such eventualities as death as well as such potential issues as illness and incapacitation. While many assume that estate planning is for families with complex estates, it can be useful to nearly every family for avoiding potential legal issues, unnecessary expenses and other important matters.

It was about a year ago that we outlined three common estate planning mistakes. These were:

Tom Petty's estate caught up in litigation

Tom Petty famously got his start here in Florida, so many here have avidly followed his career and took great pride in his successes. We also mourned when he died in 2017. While some time has passed, the Petty estate is now in the news because the rocker's second wife, Dana Petty, is involved in a dispute with Petty's daughters Adria Petty and Annakim Violette from a previous marriage.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Dana is the directing trustee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's estate, but there are suits on both sides filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court over control of the estate.

The benefits of a revocable trust

Estate planning involves a wide variety of options. Of course, one starts with the basics of drafting a will with the help of an attorney with experience in handling estate law issues. During those initial consultations, it may come to light that a revocable trust is a good estate planning tool to address the needs of the client.

Also known as a living trust, revocable trusts offer many benefits, most notably giving the person who establishes the trust (the grantor) the ability to modify or revoke the trust up until the day he or she dies. Once the grantor is deceased, the trust shifts to irrevocable to expressly carry out the goals and guidelines it was set up for.

Now is the time to have tough conversations with your loved ones

If you have ever had an emergency healthcare situation, you know how scary it can be to feel forced into making a medical decision in a hurry. You might feel as though you do not have all the information you need. Or maybe you wish you had more time to choose, or at least agree with, your plan of action.

However, have you considered what would happen if you were unable to make decisions for yourself? And have you thought about who you would want making medical choices on your behalf? Although these may not be things you would like to consider, choosing a healthcare surrogate may be an important part of your estate planning process.

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