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Boca Raton Estate Planning, Probate & Real Estate Blog

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.

Thanks, but no thanks

Many people will mourn the loss of a loved one, but they often will take solace if the decedent bequests or gifts money or assets to them. Sometimes, however, these thoughtful gestures are actually more trouble for the prospective beneficiary than if they had never received them. In these circumstances, renunciation of the gift may be the smart course of action. This can be done for any reason but is often done for tax purposes.

The renunciation of a gift or bequest is also called “disclaiming a gift," and the refusal is called a “disclaimer.” If an individual disclaims a gift, they do not get to pick who is to receive the gift. Instead, it is as if the initial beneficiary did not exist and it passes on to the next beneficiary in line.

Who should I appoint as guardian for my children?

Appointing a guardian for your children is an important decision every Florida parent should make thoughtfully. The person or persons you name as guardian will fill a critical role in your child’s life should you become incapacitated or pass away.

Because this party will be able to make legal and financial decisions on your child’s behalf, it is important that you consider some important factors before naming someone.

Can I revoke a power of attorney?

Assigning power of attorney duties in an estate plan is a wise decision to ensure someone you trust has authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. However, circumstances change over time, and there may be reason to reassess your power of attorney appointments.

For instance, you may decide to revoke or change the designated agent as your power of attorney at some point. You might decide to do so because of changes in your relationship with your appointed agent, changes in your wishes or other conditions that warrant revisiting this appointment. If you wish to revoke a power of attorney, there are some things you should know.

Have you included your prized collection in your estate plan?

Many people are involved in collecting, whether it is comic books, dolls, figurines or sports memorabilia. Most of them make an effort to take care of their collections, maintaining the original packaging or even keeping the items in a climate-controlled area. Yet far too few collectors actually plan for how their collections will be handled once they die.

Your collection might be valuable. You should find out whether it is and how best to maintain that value. Or, your collection might not be worth much in money terms, but it could be a treasure to the right party. After all, you've spent considerable effort building it.

Dealing with a decedent's debt during probate

Millions of Americans carry debt, and many people will pass away owing at least some money. This could be in the form of a mortgage, credit card debts, personal loans or other types of liabilities.

After a person passes away, it will be necessary to determine what debts he or she has and how to resolve them. 

What to know about seasonal decorations in a Florida HOA

Homeowners' associations (HOAs) are quite common across Florida, and many people living in them enjoy the benefits of being a part of this type of community. Though, HOAs come with rules with which homeowners must comply.

It is also important to note that HOAs must follow the rules as well. There are numerous statutes in place here in Florida that dictate what an HOA must and must not do. However, disputes can arise when members and an HOA do not see eye-to-eye on a particular issue, like seasonal decorations.

Can your estate plan include your pet?

A pet can be one of the most important members of your family. As such, it is important to make the necessary preparations for your pet in the event of your death.

While you can account for pets in your will, a will does not always ensure your pet’s new caretaker will follow your wishes. To guarantee your pet will receive the care you intended, you might want to create a pet trust.

Paul Allen’s will made public, asset details stay private

We often discuss the various options people have to keep details of their estate private when they pass away. One of the most common solutions is to have a trust set up and properly funded.

Having a trust can be wise for a number of reasons, but people often establish them to avoid probate and keep the details of their assets out of the public record. This is what billionaire Paul Allen did, according to recent reports.

Mistakes personal representatives should avoid during probate

Serving as the personal representative of an estate is a major responsibility. And despite the fact that it often involves complex legal and financial elements, the people who often serve as a personal representative are not people with legal or financial backgrounds. Instead, they are often loved ones who were close to the decedent and understood his or her wishes.

If you are named as a personal representative and are in latter group, try not to get overwhelmed. You can get through this process by avoiding some common pitfalls during probate.

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