Requirements for a Valid Will

Requirements for a Valid Will

Estate Planning
Just because someone thinks they have a will in place does not mean that it will be valid and enforceable when the time comes. There are certain key requirements that, if they are not met, can render the will invalid. The first requirement is that the will be in writing and signed. Oral wills are not valid or enforceable. The will must be witnessed and signed by two people. You can have the will notarized, although it is not a requirement. A notarized will does not need further proof of its validity. The second requirement is that the testator has the legal capacity to make a will. First, they must be 18 years or older. Then, they must be of sound mind to make the will and not under the…
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Is it Time to Amend Your Estate Plan?

Is it Time to Amend Your Estate Plan?

Estate Planning
Once you have established an estate plan, it should not be on autopilot for the rest of your life. Circumstances can change, whether it is because of the passage of time or a major life event. There are times when you must change your estate plan to reflect a new reality. From time to time, you should review your estate plan with an experienced attorney. Here are some reasons why you may need to change your estate plan: Someone listed in your estate has passed away You may have had a major life event like a marriage or divorce Your relationship with someone in your estate plan may have changed Your financial situation has changed You may have rethought your aims and what is important to you Estate Plans Are…
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What is the Role of a Probate Judge?

What is the Role of a Probate Judge?

Estate Planning
Most estates will go through probate after someone dies before the family can close the estate. During this process, the will is validated, and creditors are paid back what they are owed. Each case will be assigned to a probate judge. In the best-case scenario, the role of the probate judge will be limited. If there is a will, the executor will handle the matters of the estate. The role of the probate judge will usually be to review and sign off on the paperwork. If the probate judge must take on a larger role, it is a sign that something is wrong in the process. The probate judge will become involved if there is litigation. For example, if an interested party is challenging the validity of the will, there…
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Who Do You Want as Your POA?

Who Do You Want as Your POA?

Estate Planning
Choosing someone to act as your agent with power of attorney is a choice that should not be taken lightly. This is a person who will have an immense amount of power to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf. The wrong choice can cause problems for you and your family at a difficult time. Factors to Consider When Selecting a POA The first consideration is that the potential agent has the expertise necessary to make decisions. For example, if the person has a financial power of attorney, they should be financially literate. The person with a medical power of attorney should be able to talk to doctors and process medical information. Second, you also want someone who is nearby to you to make decisions. This is extremely important…
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What are Intestate Succession Laws?

What are Intestate Succession Laws?

Estate Planning
It is always better to prepare in advance and have a will in place if something were to happen to you. However, Florida has laws on the books that provide more certainty if a person dies without a will. Nonetheless, your family would rather not be in a position of needing these laws. Intestate succession laws will determine who inherits property when someone does not have a will. Oftentimes, these laws would not even apply to much of your property. For example, assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds do not go through the court. So long as you have designated beneficiaries, they will receive the property directly from the institution that holds the assets without the need for court intervention. Property Shares When There Is No Will…
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Possible Complications During Probate

Possible Complications During Probate

Estate Planning
Estate planning attorneys usually advise clients who have the ability to establish trusts to keep their estates out of probate. There are reasons for this. There are many complications that could arise during probate that can delay the distribution of assets and increase your expenses. Will Contests The biggest possible difficulty is that someone will contest the will. They may claim that someone had undue influence on the testator or that there was a lack of capacity to sign and execute the will. If they succeed, the court would decline to enforce the terms of the will, and everything is then up to the probate court. These challenges can be expensive and nasty. Creditors Emerging with Large Debts Part of the probate process is settling debts owed to creditors. They…
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Protecting Your Children with an Estate Plan

Protecting Your Children with an Estate Plan

Estate Planning
An estate plan is about much more than the distribution of property. Of course, dealing with your assets is a large part of estate planning, but the entire process should be used with an eye towards working to protect your family - especially the next generation. The Orderly Transfer of Assets The main features of an estate plan are wills and trusts. If anything happens, you want to keep your children from having to go into court and go through a burdensome legal process to inherit the estate. They may not have any control over the process and will end up spending money on legal fees. Your estate plan will ensure an orderly transfer of assets. Instructions for Raising Your Children Beyond property, your estate plan should also specify what…
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Do You Need a Probate Attorney?

Do You Need a Probate Attorney?

Estate Planning
Probate is the process of administering an estate after someone passes away in Florida. Even though you are grieving a lost loved one, you still have to go through the legal process, and the individual appointed (by a will or by the probate court) will need to serve as the deceased’s personal representative, also known as an executor. While many probate cases go relatively smoothly, there are complications that can arise, which can add time and expense to the process - not to mention stress in an already stressful situation. If there is a probate dispute, there can be a lot at stake, depending on the nature of the estate. Never hesitate to discuss any concerns with a Boca Raton probate attorney if you believe you might need legal assistance.…
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Choosing the Right Executor for Your Will

Choosing the Right Executor for Your Will

Estate Planning
The executor of your will is the individual who will be responsible for honoring its contents, assessing the property in your estate, resolving debts, and distributing the remaining property as you wish. Knowing who to choose as your executor can be a difficult choice, as it is a great responsibility and can also take quite a bit of time. There are factors you should take into account when choosing an executor, and a Boca Raton estate planning attorney can help with the process. The Fiduciary Duty Executors must abide by a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of your estate. This means that they must complete all necessary tasks in a proper manner, manage assets prudently, and abide by the terms of the will. Fiduciaries should never act in a biased…
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Steps to Create an Enforceable Trust

Steps to Create an Enforceable Trust

Estate Planning
Trusts must be properly created in order to be enforceable. There are strict legal requirements. The last thing that you want is to create a trust only to later find out that it is unenforceable. Here are some of the requirements for an enforceable trust. Establish Intent and Purpose to Create a Trust This is one of the easier steps. You can simply state this in the trust document through your words. In addition, the trust must have a valid purpose, such as being part of an estate plan. Have the Proper Testamentary Capacity In order for the trust to be valid, you must not be incapacitated. This means that you are competent and able to enter into a contract. This is why trusts must be set up before you…
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