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Plant Provision Proves Estate Planning Ingenuity

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a unique provision in a will intended to care for a potted plant. A 63-year-old woman in Pennsylvania has been dutifully caring for a 42-year-old philodendron for years. Since the plant will almost surely outlive her, she has inserted a provision in her will granting a friend $5,000 to care for the plant upon her death.

This estate planning oddity is certainly not the norm, especially here in Florida where the favorable climate can care for someone's preferred plant just fine. Nevertheless, the provision highlights one of the most important concepts of an estate plan. Despite the standard forms and general rules, Floridians need to know that estate planning is completely customizable to their desires.

The intent behind will and trust law is to carry out the wishes of a decedent. While there are limits on the lawfulness of certain provisions, estate law will generally enforce one's requests. This central tenant has been carried out in a wide array of creative ways. From providing for a plant to caring for a pet, an estate plan has few limits.

The object of a bequest, though, is not the only way to be creative. The application of assets to an individual or organization can also be tailored in unique ways. Individuals can choose to gift assets in certain amounts and at certain times or upon certain conditions. No matter the desire, a local Lee estate planning attorney can help devise strategies to carry out one's wishes.

These professionals can also help residents understand tax implications and costs necessary to carry out a provision. This reality check can be vital in ensuring sufficient funds are set aside to meet one's goals. While we may not all have a philodendron to care for, adequately protecting what is important to us after we are gone is doable with a proper estate plan.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "A Woman's Will Provides for Trusty Houseplant Upon Her Death," James Hagerty, May 4, 2014

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