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Boca Raton Estate Planning, Probate & Real Estate Blog

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.

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.

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