TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A WILL

  1. Write a Will or the State of Florida will write one for you. With a Will, you choose your beneficiaries and dictate the terms of disbursement.
  2. Select the person who will handle your affairs.
  3. Create trust provisions for minor persons and young adults. Without a trust, a child can have full access to your assets at age 18, even if he or she is too immature to handle it.
  4. Nominate a guardian for your minor children.
  5. Preserve governmental benefits for a disabled person. You can set up a special needs trust under your Will.
  6. Protect an inheritance against divorce and lawsuits. Under a trust created under your Will, you can create a “spendthrift” provision.
  7. Protect your children’s inheritances from a second marriage. Under a trust created under your Will, you can limit your spouse’s inheritance so that when he or she dies, your children receive the remaining principal.
  8. Special instructions. You can leave burial and funeral instructions in your will and provide that a written list of personal property will be incorporated in your Will.
  9. Make a gift to charity. With a Will, you can leave some money to a favorite charity.
  10. Give yourself peace of mind. You will know that you put your affairs in order and your family will know that you cared enough to do so.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

MAKE SURE YOUR ESTATE PLAN WON’T CAUSE A FAMILY FIGHT

A thoughtful estate plan is a wonderful gift to your loved ones when they are mourning your loss.  But, even the most well-meaning people can cause family discord and resentment.

You can reduce the chances of a family fight by doing these things:

  • Name the best Personal Representative and Trustee. Don’t name your representatives based on family hierarchy.  Select the person with the best skills, ethical qualifications, and availability for the task.
  • Include personal property in your plan. Things like jewelry or sentimental items often carry the most emotional value and can cause family fights.  Either make a list to be incorporated in your Will or Trust or add a clause that allows the representative to sell any disputed items if the beneficiaries cannot agree.
  • Don’t tie up the money for too long. Unless you have minor or irresponsible children, don’t limit payments too long.  It could be seen as a lack of faith by the parents.  Don’t retain too much control from the grave.
  • Explain any unequal or unusual Bequests. If you do not explain why you are not leaving equal shares to your child or other family members, explain why in the document or in a family meeting.  This goes a long way in avoiding discord.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 

 

 

ESTATE PLANNING PITFALL

A revocable living trust compliments a will and enables your beneficiaries to inherit your wealth upon your death with no need for probate.  But, the trust must be properly funded if it is to do any good.  You must transfer your assets into your trust while you are alive. This means changing legal ownership of your assets from your name to that of the trust.

Bank accounts, stocks, real estate, and even business interests are the type of assets that should be transferred to a trust.  Real estate requires a new deed for the transfer.  It is usually recommended to avoid transferring IRA’s and 401(k) plans to a revocable trust.  This can trigger unwanted tax consequences.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

AGING SOLO?  BUILD A TEAM!

Many of my senior clients live alone – some never married, some are widowed or divorced, and many of my clients never had children or their children are deceased or estranged.  With no family member to rely on, they need someone trustworthy to pay bills and make critical decisions if they become ill.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Think creatively when selecting someone who can manage your affairs. It might be a cousin or niece or nephew, or maybe a trusted financial or legal advisor.
  • Try to select a health care agent who lives nearby or who can easily travel to you if you are ill. If not family, perhaps a close friend or clergy would be willing to help.
  • Simplify your financial life by consolidating your assets. This makes management easier for you or anyone who takes over.
  • Consult with an attorney about a Living Trust and Durable Power of Attorney. If you do not have a family member or close friend to serve as trustee or agent, talk to your attorney about a financial institution or other professional.  You can name co-trustees, say, a financial institution and a relative or friend, and require them to act together.

What’s most important is – have a plan.  Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

These deeds are also call “enhanced life estate” deeds.  With a standard life estate deed, you could name a beneficiary to inherit your property while you keep ownership of it for your lifetime, but with significant restrictions.  You wouldn’t have the right to sell or mortgage the property and you might also be liable to the beneficiary you named if you greatly decreased the value of the property – for example, let a house fall into serious disrepair.

By contrast, an enhanced life estate deed (the Lady Bird deed) lets you:

  • Avoid probate of the property
  • Keep the right to use and profit from the property for your lifetime
  • Keep the right to sell the property at any time
  • Avoid making a gift that might be subject to tax
  • Avoid jeopardizing your eligibility for Medicaid

If you have a mortgage on your property, it is advisable to seek the lender’s approval before signing a Lady Bird Deed.  Some mortgage loans have provisions that enable a lender to call a loan due when you execute certain kinds of deeds.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 Here at the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms, we provide complete Estate Planning services.  Our revocable trust is not the “one size fits all” document that comes in an expensive leather binder.  We consult with you, assess your situation and prepare your trust to meet your needs and goals.

We will also make sure that your trust is properly funded.  It is not enough to have a piece of paper titled “Trust”;   you must properly title your assets in order to avoid probate.    We will prepare deeds and work with your financial advisors and banks to make sure all assets are titled in the trust.

The initial consultation for Estate Planning services is free.  There is no pressure, no selling and no obligation.  Just education.  Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 

 

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ADVANCE MEDICAL DIRECTIVES

  1. Is a designation of health care surrogate the same as a living will?
  • No. A healthcare surrogate is able to make decisions about the medical treatments which are not life support; such as medication, tests, choice of hospitals and physicians.  This allows someone whom you have appointed to express your wishes if you are unable to do so.
  • A living will, on the other hand, applies only to life support treatment for a terminal condition from which you are not expected to recover.
  1. What are some of the other things a health care surrogate can do?
  • Apply for health insurance
  • Sign consent forms
  • Provide information and records when needed
  • Prevent or stop unnecessary tests or medication

If you need advice on estate planning or advance medical directives, call the Law Office of Debra G. Simms today at 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
629 N. Dixie HWY
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667

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