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Should Each of Your Children Receive an Equal Inheritance?

Dividing up your property and assets amongst multiple children can be an impossible situation. Some solve the problem by avoiding the estate planning process it entirely, but not having a will is not the answer. It is a task that must be faced. The most obvious answer is an equal division of assets among the children. Equal division may at first seem like the right choice for most cases, however in some families, providing each child with an equal inheritance may not make sense. For some, rather than an “equal” inheritance, an equitable inheritance could be more sensible. While an equal...

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Elder Law: The Role of Power of Attorney

Setting up and enforcing a power of attorney (otherwise known as a POA) can be confusing. Yet it is an essential estate planning tool – particularly for aging individuals and their families attempting to create a solid plan to cover future care needs and protect their family. Power of attorney documents allow the principal to decide in advance who they want to trust to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for their own care or finances, etc. The individual the principal designates as able to act on their behalf, is referred to as the agent. What...

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Does a Trust Replace a Will?

Many are under the impression that a revocable living trust fulfills all the functions of a will. While a revocable living trust that is appropriately managed offers several benefits, it does not precisely replace a will. If you are trying to determine if this type of trust would be the most beneficial in your situation, try considering the primary purpose of a living revocable trust, the different benefits, and the tradeoffs required. What Are Some Benefits of the Revocable Living Trust? The revocable living trust is created during your lifetime, and as a “revocable” living trust, you can alter the trust at...

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How to Open a Formal Probate Estate in Florida

Did you know that Florida has a streamlined probate process? It’s referred to as “Summary Administration.” Summary Administration, Florida’s streamlined probate process, may be used when an estate is valued at less than $75,000 or when an estate’s decedents have been deceased for over two years. Estates that do not qualify for Summary Administration must follow the lengthier probate court-supervised process referred to as “Formal Administration.” In some states, graduated probate filing fees based on the value of the estate are collected, but Florida sticks to a flat $400 fee for each estate filing for formal probate. If you need to open...

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If You Have No Children, Do You Need a Will?

Many individuals and couples who do not have children decide without much consideration that they don’t need a will. But is that true? If you have no children, do you need a will or not? If you stop and think about it, someone has to inherit your assets. If you don’t decide on who will inherit what you leave behind, state law will decide for you. They may determine your horrible, 3rd cousin, Horace, will inherit, but your great-aunt Sharon gets nothing. If you don’t want your random, terrible, 3rd cousin, Horace, to inherit, seek out an estate planning attorney. If...

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When Does Your Child Need an Estate Plan?

Did you know children need estate plans, too? Well, it depends on your definition of a child. But if you have a child headed off to college, they land squarely in the “need an estate plan” category. You’re sending your child off to college – maybe they plan to live in a dorm across town, or perhaps they plan to move a couple of hours away or across the country. Regardless of where your child is attending university, your college-age child needs to add “estate planning” to their to-do list, preparing them for their first semester. In a recent Wall Street Journal...

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Medicaid Planning and Gift Giving

It’s better to give than to receive, right? Yes, unless you are planning to someday apply for Medicaid long-term care benefits. If you think you may need to apply for Medicaid long-term care benefits in the future, be careful what “gifts” you offer because it could disrupt your plans and leave you ineligible for benefits. How Do Gifts Affect Medicaid Eligibility? According to federal Medicaid law, transferring certain assets within five years of applying for Medicaid long-term care benefits results in a period of ineligibility. The period of ineligibility is referred to as a transfer penalty. The length of the “period” depends...

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How to Choose the Best Trustee for Your Estate

Choosing the trustee is one of the toughest decisions you have to make for your estate plan. The designation of the trustee to manage your estate when you are gone is a significant decision. While the trustee's duties will vary depending on the type of trust created and any specific stipulations included in the trust documentation, they will be in charge of overseeing your assets and the assets of your loved ones. In most cases, the trustee is a friend, a family member, a professional trustee, a lawyer or accountant, or a trust company. It is a crucial role, and...

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Elder Law: How to Pick Up on Elder Financial Abuse

There are too many stories of older adults being robbed of their life savings, their home, or their investments and as elder law attorneys, we hear them all. Sometimes the theft comes at the hands of an unknown individual, but in other cases, the theft comes from those who should be guarding them against harm: their family or their caretaker. According to the American Psychological Association, at least four million cases of elder abuse and neglect go on record every year. And that does not take into consideration the 20+ unreported instances of abuse or neglect that occur for every...

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Debunking 3 Common Estate Planning Myths

Did you know that estate planning is one of the most misunderstood areas of family and financial planning? If you think you're too young to have an estate plan, we need to have a discussion. If you feel you don't need an estate plan because you have a financial plan, we should talk. If you think you're too old to get your estate plan together, we need to have a question and answer session. If you are in any of these situations, you may need to read about a few common estate planning myths. 3 Common Estate Planning Myths: Myth #1: You...

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