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Florida estate planning nightmares

Despite the stakes, many local Florida residents are surprisingly hands-off about what will happen to their assets after they die. Often times, when these individuals finally decide they want to direct their inheritance, they are too weak or disabled to fully engage in effective estate planning. While default laws are meant to assume the intent of the decedent, examples of nightmare scenarios show why a well-formulated estate plan is so vital.

For instance, a family member will put their life on hold to take care of a loved one in their final days. If a provision is not added to an estate plan, however, this caretaker could be excluded entirely from any inheritance.

In other cases, individuals may think they have drafted an effective estate plan by creating trusts. After creation, the individual usually acquires significant assets. Too often, these assets are not properly conveyed to the trust. As a result, the trust document is irrelevant, and the assets will be distributed according to arcane laws the individual probably never reviewed.

In addition to such problems, many children have difficulty administering a power of attorney or personal property distributions. One child may live far from his or her parent while a second child and his spouse may live close to an ailing parent. Without proper controls, the children could run into friction as one child siphons funds for expenses and unilaterally reports on the wishes of the parent.

No matter how sure one may be that their family will be able to figure it all out. Individuals should take estate planning seriously to allow their loved ones to avoid the contentiousness, which ambiguous estate plans often create.

Source: Daily Finance, "Avoid These Estate Planning Nightmares," Michele Lerner, Aug. 20, 2014

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