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Gainesville, FL Estate Planning, Will & Trust Law Blog

Thursday, July 18, 2013

TOP 10 ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES

10 PLANNING MISTAKES

 

1)       Failing to Address Health Care Decisions

2)       No Plan to Control Financial & Property Matters During Incapacity

3)       No Strategy to Transfer Assets

4)       Failure to Understand & Plan For Taxes

5)       Thinking Children – Minor And Adult – Don’t Need Inheritance Protection

6)       Failing to Transfer “Values”

7)       Not Preserving Tax Deferral Benefits of Retirement Plans

8)       In second marriages, failing to protect your spouse, and your kids

9)       Access to Medical Records – Failing to Plan for HIPAA

10)    Failing to Plan for Tangible Personal Property

 

 

No one knows what tomorrow may bring and if here is an unexpected death, who would take custody of the children? Who would get mom’s antique piano and what would happen to that retirement nest egg? 

No one particularly welcomes thoughts of death or dying but we strive to make estate planning a painless and rewarding process. Clients are often anxious the first time we meet, but by helping them clarify and get things in order, it really lifts a burden off their shoulders.  It is never too early or too late to discuss estate planning strategies.

Throughout your life, things change.  You change, your assets change, your family changes, the law will definitely change.

At White & Crouch, P.A., we foster a lifetime, ongoing relationship with our clients.  Call us today.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can't I just get my Will from LegalZoom?


Legal Zoom does great marketing and seems like a great alternative to those pesky lawyers.  I mean gosh, you have to go there, you have to talk to them and you just wind up with documents, right?  

Of course, I am an attorney and so I may have biased opinion but after reading this post, http://www.texaswillsandtrustslaw.
Read more . . .


Sunday, June 16, 2013

What happens if I die without an estate plan?

If you die without a good estate plan, you’re leaving everything to chance. Simply put, you won’t have any idea what will happen to your loved ones in the event of your death or disability.

That’s not to say that your loved ones won’t survive or even prosper after you’re gone. The laws of Florida provide for the orderly distribution of property even though there may not be a Will or other legal documents in place. While those laws are designed to make sure that your creditors are paid and that all remaining property is distributed to the "natural objects of your bounty," they certainly don’t take into consideration the particular needs of any of your loved ones, nor do they seek to minimize costs or the delays often associated with probate. 

Certainly, it stands to reason that you know best how you want to provide for your loved ones in the event of your death or disability.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beware of Estate Planning Fraud

Often presented in a seminar, by direct mail and even telemarketing, companies are promising a one-size-fits-all type of standard Living Trust that does not take into account your individual needs or situation. These so-called estate planners say they work with an attorney; however, the attorney is only the front person and is not involved in preparing the trust document.

Some have a sound-alike name similar to that of the American Association of Retired People (AARP) or other trusted organization, which might confuse the elderly into thinking the company is legitimate. I am told these defrauders sometimes even go door to door in the daytime to avoid any potential adult caregivers that may be home.

If you or your loved one wishes to set up a trust, talk with an experienced estate planning attorney today.


Friday, May 31, 2013

What Will Happen To Your Pet When You're No Longer Around?

When it comes to protecting your pet, no one does it better than you do.

·         You love them…

·         You feed them…

·         You make sure they have everything they need to live a happy, healthy life.

But what would happen if you were no longer around? Who would care for your pet? Would your friends and family know what foods to feed or what medications to give?

How can you ensure that your pet continues to receive the love and care they need?

IS MY PET REALLY AT RISK?

According to animal welfare organization “2nd Chance 4 Pets,” over 500,000 pets are abandoned each year due to the death or disability of their human companions. That’s 500,000 too many. What’s worse is that those pets could have been protected with just a little planning. Think about it: what will happen to your pet if you become disabled? What if you’re no longer able to speak for yourself? How will the courts know what to do with your pet? And how can you make sure that your beloved animal doesn’t end up in a shelter somewhere or worse, alone on the streets? Sadly, that happens all the time.

With a Pet Trust, you can prevent your pet from becoming another statistic. Give us a call today – together, we can make sure your pet has a happy, healthy life.

 


Friday, May 24, 2013

Do You Need to Update Your Will When You Move to Florida?

 

Do You Need to Update Your Will When You Move to Florida?

 

If you move to Florida and you have a Will that was drafted and signed in another state, is it still valid?  The myth that an out of state Will is automatically invalid when you move to Florida is not true.  A Will that is signed by a non-Florida resident is valid in Florida if:

·         It complies with the statutory formalities for executing a Will or

·         The Will is valid under the laws of the state where the Will was signed UNLESS the out of state will was verbal or handwritten. 

·         In Florida, a Will MUST be in writing to be valid.  A Will in a person’s own handwriting is not valid unless it meets the formal document signing requirements of either Florida or the state in which it was signed.

·         Even if your will is VALID, it may not be EFFECTIVE.  Some provisions of your out of state Will may not be valid under Florida law. 

For example:

a.       your will is based on “community property” rights that were recognized in your prior state. Florida does not have “community property” rights.

b.      you named a friend or neighbor from your previous state as guardian of your minor children who is not qualified to serve as a Florida guardian.

Did you know:

1)      A Power of Attorney drafted in some states loses its validity when the person who signed it becomes incapacitated.  In Florida, it does not – if properly drafted. 

2)      A “Living Will” drafted in another state may not comply with the particularities of Florida law. 

3)      Florida law provides that you may designate a “health care surrogate” to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

We believe that when someone moves to Florida they should consult with a Florida estate planning attorney to ensure that their estate planning documents are up to date and conform with Florida law.  If you have family, friends, or neighbors who recently have moved to Florida, please share this information with them.

Throughout your life, things change.  You change, your assets change, your family changes, the law will definitely change.

At White & Crouch, P.A., we foster a lifetime, ongoing relationship with our clients.  Call us today!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Think you Don’t Have a Will? Think Again.

If you’re a resident of Florida and you die intestate (without a Will) or if your Will is deemed ‘invalid,’ the Florida Legislature has written one for you.

Under Florida Statutes ss.732.101 & 732.102, if you are married your spouse will inherit according to the following rules:

* If you have no lineal descendants, your spouse inherits 100% of your estate;

* If you have lineal descendants, all of whom are also your spouse’s lineal descendants, and your spouse has no other descendants, your spouse receives 100% of your estate;

* If you have lineal descendants, one or more of whom are not lineal descendants of your spouse, your estate is split 50-50 between your spouse and your descendants;

* If you have lineal descendants, all of whom are also your spouse’s lineal descendants, but your spouse has one or more descendants who are not your lineal descendants (children from a previous marriage, perhaps), your estate is split 50-50 between your spouse and your descendants.

 

Getting Legal Help

At White and Crouch we understand what your estate plan should and should not include to protect your assets and your loved ones. We can help you make a thorough plan to give you peace of mind. Contact us today at (352) 372-1011.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Formal vs. Summary Administration of Estates

Everyone has heard horror stories about Probate. However, there is nothing inherently evil about it, and it provides a number of benefits. There are two types of Probate in Florida: Formal Administration and Summary Administration. Formal Administration has the advantage that it provides a court-supervised structure to ensure that everyone with a stake in the estate gets a fair shake. If there are any disputes, they can be brought before the Court for resolution. Once distributions are made to the beneficiaries and the estate is closed, the beneficiaries do not have to worry about future claims against the estate.

Summary Administration, as the name implies, is less formal, takes less time, and costs less. However, little guidance or protection is provided in the event of a dispute or a claim against the estate. Summary Administration can be used if there is no direction for Formal Administration in the Will, the assets of the estate do not exceed $75,000, or if the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. In these instances, the court can order an immediate distribution of the assets to the heirs. In a functional family where no claims or disputes are anticipated, if an estate qualifies for Summary Administration, that is often the wiser choice.

Getting Legal Help

At White and Crouch we understand what your estate plan should and should not include to protect your assets and your loved ones. We can help you make a thorough plan to give you peace of mind. Contact us today at 352-372-1011.


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From our office in Gainesville, the estate planning firm of White, Crouch & Mills, P.A. advises and represents clients in communities throughout Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Putnam County, Clay County, Bradford County, Union County and Gilchrist County in North Central Florida. Call us at 352-372-1011 or contact the firm by email to arrange an initial consultation with us today.



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