Estate planning is for everyone, not just the wealthy, the aging, or the ill. Life is unpredictable and anyone can become disabled at any time. One of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones is to establish an estate plan. A well-designed estate plan provides for loved ones, including minor children or aging parents, provide for incapacity, avoid probate at death, reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and provide for charitable organizations. In addition, an estate plan can pass down a legacy and non-tangible valuables you probably don’t know can be passed down.
I meet with individuals and families to review their personal and financial situation, including their needs, concerns, hopes, and goals, and explain the options available to them based on their situation. This may include Wills and Trust plans and may include legal and medical powers, a plan to protect minor children or protect yourself as you age or become incapacitated. We thinking that planning is more than a set of legal documents, it is the right planning and the right guidance to bring you the peace of mind you need to keep enjoying the happy moments in your life and with your family.
Children First Plan
Children are our most precious treasures and every parent wants to make sure their children are protected. We provide the guidance and the tools to elaborate a plan where children are protected and always in the care of someone you trust and that is familiar to the children. Unexpected events are traumatic enough, so we make sure that a plan is in place to make a transition as less intruding and traumatic as we possibly can.
Special Needs Planning
Any child who reaches the age of 18 (the age of majority) is considered an adult. This is also true for children with special needs who continue to need care in various or in every way. This means, that a guardianship is essential for these children or incapacitated adults. In addition, these special persons usually receive SSI and/or Medicaid benefits that could be affected upon receiving an inheritance. There are ways to plan for your dependent special family member so that person does not lose his or her benefits. If benefits are not an issue, you want to make sure there a trusted and willing person to take on your role if you can no longer do it yourself (in the event of death or incapacity) and you also want to make sure that the incapacitated person’s inheritance is used in the right way, avoiding waste and predators. inheritance, necessary If you thought planning for a child was important, planning for a special child can be even more important and involves further nuances.
Our “babies” grow up! At the blink of an eye, we are buying dorm needs seeing a young adult flourish in front of our eyes. College-age children have very specific needs as well. Even though we won’t need a legal guardianship to care for them, absent special needs, upon their 18th birthday, in the state of Florida, they are considered adults and, as we can no longer make legal or medical decisions for them.
We have parents shock at this news all the time. They don’t understand why they cannot continue to make decisions for their “babies.” The reality is, they are not babies anymore and legal documentation is needed so we, as parents can act for their best interest if ever needed. So, it is important to have college-age children put basic planning in place, especially planning to provide their parents or a trusted adult with access to their medical records and medical decision-making.
Very special instructions for parents: as your child is now an adult, you cannot do the planning for your child. The child must be present and the child is the one making the decision as to who can and cannot make decisions for herself or himself. Yes, they have grown up. More so, make sure the right plan is in place to protect your young adults.
We normally include basic planning for college-age children complimentary when the parents complete a Trust Plan with us. Click here to Learn More.
For the people I know, pets are part of their family. I can speak for myself here as I have a parrotlet and two dogs that are my babies. These, unlike your children, will never emancipate and leave for college. It is our responsibility to care for our pets. So, what happened to them if we become incapacitated or die? Many times they will end up in a shelter or who knows where else.
Can we protect them beyond our presence? Certainly. Even though pets are considered property, Florida allows for a pet to be the beneficiary of a trust that can ensure proper care and protection of your furred or feathered family members!
A piece of advice: do not trust that your family member or friend who likes your pets will be able or willing to care for your pet if you cannot. Proper planning is essential for their protection.