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St. Petersburg Estate Planning Blog

Why do people contest a will?

Contesting a will is not something you should ever do lightly. The document is meant to represent your loved one's final wishes. Those need to be respected.

That said, you may honestly believe that the document does not reflect their true wishes for a variety of reasons. In a situation like that, you may be honoring them by starting a challenge to contest the estate plan. Not only may you have something to gain, but you may be able to turn the tables so that what your loved one wanted for their heirs is exactly what happens.

Three questions your business succession plan should address

Running a family business can be a lot of work, and it is not something everyone is cut out for. Although you may love your job, you cannot work forever, and it is not always safe to assume the next generation will be able to take over when the time is right.

There are numerous obstacles that can get in the way of a family business successfully transitioning from one generation to the next, including a lack of interest from the next generation, family squabbles and inadequate skills. Creating and implementing a succession plan early can help you prepare your business to overcome potential obstacles that may impede a successful transition.

Estate planning for older Florida citizens

As we age, concerns that did not feel important in our younger years often come into focus. Addressing financial matters is one of the issues that can cause elder residents of St. Petersburg to worry regardless of their estate size. While estate planning does come with a few complex issues, it is not as difficult as you may think to address your estate and make your end-of-life arrangements.

One of the first steps in estate planning is finding a lawyer who can understand your situation and make recommendations tailored to your needs. This can help you avoid a "cookie cutter" plan that does not take your unique circumstances into account. Most seniors benefit from a personalized approach to estate planning. This is so because it gives seniors an opportunity to address financial and health care concerns with a caring legal representative.

Make sure you are completely honest with your lawyer

As you do your estate planning, you have to work your way into some personal topics. Things like how much money you've earned, how much you've saved and how much debt you have become crucial. These are things you may not feel comfortable discussing with anyone.

However, it is very important that you be honest with the lawyer who helps you draft your estate plan. Remember that your lawyer cannot help you properly without all of the necessary information. Holding anything back can just leave you with an inadequate estate plan that does not really accomplish what your family needs it to accomplish.

Is that house a dangerous investment?

You're thinking of buying a new home, and it looks beautiful. You've walked through it and looked at the pictures online. It's a stunning home with well-maintained grounds, and it's in a good neighborhood. Everything appears in order.

But is it really a good investment? Or are there issues lurking beneath the surface that could really cost you in the long run? To avoid a home with hidden problems and pitfalls, take these steps:

  • Ask the seller if they know about any potential issues. They legally have to tell you. While they may not be responsible for hidden problems that even they have not yet discovered, they have an obligation to disclose known defects. They cannot simply cover it up and hope you don't notice until you buy the house.
  • Have an official home inspection. Don't count on your own walk-through. Even when things look good from the outside, an inspector can often find issues like a cracked foundation or a leaky roof that you may have missed entirely.
  • Remember that small signs can indicate large problems. For instance, you may notice some light discoloration in the drywall. You think the house just needs a new coat of paint. However, the real issue is that water is leaking through the roof and running down the beams, which are rotting out. You have to tear the whole wall out and replace it, and you need to fix the leak in the roof. It's a huge project.

Health care documents are important for your college student

Your baby is all grown up and off to college. While they still may be a young child in your eyes, the law sees them as an adult. At age 18, they take on the responsibility of their own health care decisions and parents may be surprised to know that without the proper documents in place, you might not be allowed information in the case of a health care emergency.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates health care privacy and keeps medical information private for anyone over 18, even from parents, unless the proper documents are signed and in place. Regardless if you’re paying their tuition or they’re on your health insurance plan, medical professionals will not share information or include you in the medical decisions about your child without these documents.

Some reasons a living trust can be challenged

Like many other estate planning documents, it is possible to challenge a living trust. Those who have a financial interest in the trust -- whether that means getting assets or losing money that would otherwise go to them -- may be able to challenge it.

However, that does not mean that a trust can get overturned simply because someone does not approve of the financial impact. There has to be a valid reason for the challenge. A few potential reasons include:

  1. The person who created the trust was not mentally competent at the time. This could happen because of Alzheimer's or a similar disease. Aging can have a drastic impact on a person's mental capacity and decision-making ability.
  2. The trustee did not use the trust properly, and there was a breach of fiduciary duty. Trustees have to manage the trust properly and in accordance with the wishes of the person who created the trust, even when that person can no longer participate in this process.
  3. The person who drafted the trust was influenced by outside factors. There may be undue influence from a caregiver or another family member. For instance, a caregiver could abuse their position of power to force the person to create a trust that specifically benefits them at the expense of other beneficiaries and family members.

Remarriage throws off children's estate expectations

The reality of estate planning is that your children are likely doing some mental planning regarding their inheritances, even if they don't technically know what you intend to leave to them.

This may sound a bit surprising, but it's just a fact of life. Your children can reasonably expect that your estate will pass to them. If it's a significant estate, that could change their lives -- so they may have developed a certain set of expectations.

Couples in Florida gravitating toward smaller homes

According to real estate agents in Florida, people are still buying new homes, but the long-standing trend of always trying to buy a bigger home seems to be changing. These days, a lot of people are moving toward smaller houses and more manageable estates. They're downsizing.

This appears to be true at any price point. "What really surprises me is that I think our clientele, who own multiple homes, are looking to scale down," said one Florida real estate agent who specializes in luxury homes. "They don't necessarily need the biggest property. They want something more manageable, so it's not akin to running another corporation."

Elder abuse: how to know if it is happening

Many older individuals go to nursing homes and care facilities to get the assistance they need when they can no longer care for themselves. Unfortunately, this may make them a target for abuse from caregivers.

Physical, emotional, sexual, financial and neglect are all forms of elder abuse. It is unfortunate, but the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that one in 13 elderly individuals have experienced some form of elder abuse. How can you tell if someone you love is experiencing elder abuse?

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