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Holidays bring opportunity to discuss estate plan

It is that time of the year again for Florida residents. With the holiday season underway, many individuals will be gathering with family and friends for office parties, family gatherings and other events.

These gatherings can be a great time to catch up with loved ones and enjoy each other's company. The increased family time can also present a good opportunity to address sensitive matters like preparing a will and power of attorney.

There are numerous advantages to preparing an estate plan. First and foremost, an individual can take control of their own assets by directing how they want those assets to be distributed upon death. In the absence of this direction from a will, the person's estate typically is distributed by intestate succession. This kind of distribution might be completely different from how the person actually wants to distribute their estate.

For instance, there can be disputes that arise between children from a first marriage and a second marriage. The intestate succession rules may establish a certain distribution that is to occur between these different persons, but that may not be how the person wanted it to be. Accordingly, the only proper way of protecting assets after death is to prepare a will or other estate planning document that sets forth these wishes in writing.

The will can also bring about other advantages, such as tax savings that might not otherwise occur in the absence of a will. In light of these advantages, individuals should examine their personal circumstances to determine what kind of estate plan might be right for them.

Source: WSBT, "Special Report: Are you properly prepared for death?," Bob Montgomery, Nov. 14, 2016

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