J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Some estate planning options for Florida residents

Some people in Florida may feel it is too early to start planning their estates. But according to Florida law, if a person does not have all of the T's crossed and the I's dotted in an estate plan, the probate court could end up dividing any unspecified property and assets. If you want to have your property distributed in a certain way, it is best to start planning early.

One way of handling and controlling assets is to create a trust. Trusts are especially good for addressing potential but unforeseen situations, such as divorce. For instance, maybe the person who creates a trust wants assets to go only to family members and not to their former spouses. Writing in such a clause may sound simple enough, but it takes some skill to draft proper and clear language.

In one case from the 1920s, a rich industrialist wrote a clause providing that his son would receive $1 million when he married. However, the son went on to marry 14 times and received $1 million each time. There was no clause in the document specifying that the gift was a one-time deal.

If life situations change, estate planners can also change the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy, pension plan or 401(k). If the beneficiaries are not changed but the estate planner's will specifies that certain property should not be received by a particular individual, the will or trust may not be valid. In some cases, beneficiaries mentioned in a retirement document may prevail over the will.

To learn more about wills, trusts, inheritance and probate, feel free to stop by our Florida estate planning site. Our firm helps Florida residents create a plan that fits their specific needs.

Source: onwallstreet.com, "10 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes," Elizabeth Wine, Nov. 1, 2012

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