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Fort Myers Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Estate planning for same-sex couples presents unique issues

Despite the fact that the rights of same-sex couples have come a long way in recent years, same-sex couples in Florida and across the nation face issues in their daily lives that opposite-sex couples do not. For example, estate planning is important for all adults in our nation, but it presents complexities for same-sex couples.

First, it is important for same-sex couples to understand their marital status. Although same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015, prior to 2015 same-sex couples may have wed in one state that legalized same-sex marriage. Later on, they may have moved to a different state that did not recognize same-sex marriages. After that, they may have broken up but, unless they legally divorced, they may still be considered to be married to their former partner. Moreover, some states that recognized domestic partnerships for same-sex couples automatically converted those relationships to marriage per law. Therefore, it may be necessary to seek a divorce, so that one's assets are passed on to the right spouse.

A standalone will plus a testamentary trust can simplify probate

Sometimes a person creates a pour-over will that is supposed to place their remaining assets in a revocable trust, they sometimes fail to first fund that trust. However, merely having such a trust can simplify the probate process. This is because the executor of the person's estate, as the trustee, may be able to transfer all of the person's assets that are subject to the probate process to him or herself and then administer the estate within the trust, making it a private process, unlike probate.

For example, after filing the inventory of all the person's assets, the accounting the executor needs to provide to the probate court is simplified. The trustee only needs to provide the court with a single receipt and zero disbursements. This is due to the fact that it was the trustee, rather than the executor, that settled the liabilities of the person's estate. The trustee is then the only beneficiary with regards to the person's standalone will. Of course, the trust itself still needs to be administered. Liabilities must be settled, and net assets must be distributed to the real trust beneficiaries.

Things to consider when creating your first estate plan

It doesn't matter why you are creating your first estate plan at the present time, it's important that you know exactly what you are doing every step of the way.

If you realize that now is the time to tackle this important task, don't put it off any longer. Once you have an estate plan in place, you'll feel much better about everything the future will bring.

Even those without children should consider estate planning

For many very personal reasons, some people in Ft. Myers do not have any children. However, this doesn't mean they do not need an estate plan. That being said, estate planning for those with no children can present certain unique complexities.

For example, even though they may have no close relatives, they still should consider who should inherit their estate. For example, giving to a favorite charity or cause they are passionate about both through donations while the person is alive and then leaving the remainder of their estate to the charity in their will or trust, is often a satisfactory way for some people without children to handle estate planning.

There are many reasons to review and change your estate plan

When you create an estate plan, you hope that every decision you make will remain relevant for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, there are times when you need to review and change your estate plan. Although this may disappoint you, it's good to know that the changes you make will give you peace of mind.

There's no time like the present to get that estate plan in order

Memorial Day kicked off the unofficial start of summer, but what is more important is to remember America's soldiers who were killed in the line of duty. Of course, not everyone has to be a service member to have an unexpected death. That is why it is important for people in Florida to be prepared with an estate plan that dictates how and who will inherit one's property, what life-saving measures the person wants should they become incapacitated and who will handle their financial and health care decisions when they are no longer able to do so.

Unfortunately, there are various reasons why a person may not have created an estate plan. For some, it comes down to procrastination. After all, most of us expect to live a long life and therefore think we can put off estate planning until we are older. However, death is no respecter of age. It's better to be prepared for the unexpected.

Estate planning tips during your 40s

When you reach your 40s, your life begins to change in many ways. Your children are getting older, your career is in full swing, and you may be thinking about retirement.

During these 10 years, you also need to focus on your estate plan. Do you have an estate plan in place? Do you need to create one in the near future? Either way, you need to take steps that will give you peace of mind.

Trust, prenup at issue following Alan Thicke's death

Florida residents may be interested to hear that a war may be brewing between the children of late actor Alan Thicke and his widow. In 1988, Thicke drafted a living trust. Later, when he married his now widow he entered into a prenuptial agreement with her in September 2004. The couple wed in May 2005.

However, per a petition filed in court by Thicke's children, Thicke's widow is asking for a greater piece of his estate than what she would receive via the trust, and she is claiming the prenuptial agreement the couple had is invalid. She also reportedly maintains that, as she gave up her own work opportunities to support Thicke, she deserves to be compensated for it.

Who is liable in your Florida car accident

Car accident liability tends to boil down to the questions of which driver was at fault for the crash, and was that driver negligent? Negligence relates to a person's failure to act in a reasonable way to prevent harm to others.

Florida civil courts determine the issue of "reasonableness" based on what a reasonable person generally would have done in the same circumstances. For example, if a police officer has just pulled someone over on the side of the road, a reasonable passing driver would slow down and move to the left lane to give more space and prevent a potential accident.

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