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Boca Raton Estate Planning Law Blog

The three documents your child needs to sign at 18

A 18th birthday usually comes with celebration and lots of newfound freedom. In the eyes of the law, this milestone means that your child can make their own financial, medical or legal decisions. It can be a frustrating time as you see your child try out their decision-making skills and make life choices.

What you may not know is that you can lose all power to make financial or medical decisions for your child in an emergency or if they are unconscious. Doctors can use their best judgment on how much they reveal to parents, so being named your child's representative is one of the only ways to ensure you can make medical choices for your child and have access to him or her.

If you don't know about 'lack of liquidity' you're already behind

Estate planning can be tricky and often sneaks up during stressful times of family illness, discussions about money, or a loved one getting older. Mistakes are easily avoidable with some careful planning and knowledge of what's in store for you.

One common mistake is a lack of liquidity, or not being able to convert assets into cash quickly to cover future unforeseen costs. Lacking liquidity is especially important when it comes to estate planning, since people do not know how significant the cost may be to settle affairs and cover taxes or related estate expenses quickly.

Wills serve important functions for adults of any age

Some people in Florida might view writing a will as a task for seniors who have accumulated assets. These documents that express a person's final wishes, however, ease burdens on survivors when a person of any age passes away. Wills leave instructions that aid the people left behind who must handle probate court issues.

When a young person attains the age of majority, an estate plan that assigns a parent or someone else the power to make medical decisions reduces legal delays if the person becomes incapacitated or dies. Even the death of a young person with few assets, such as a checking account and a car, requires a probate court to assign someone to oversee the small estate. With a will in place, the probate court will know the person's wishes and not need to make arbitrary decisions.

8 benefits to a special needs trust you may not know

A special needs trust is an essential estate planning document for some families. It can accurately help protect a disabled individual from losing government benefits if they suddenly acquire additional future income.

To ensure benefits aren't someday taken away or grow to be invalid, like when an inheritance occurs, the wording and planning of a trust like this need to be carefully thought out.

Are you in charge of your child's medical emergency at college?

On a normal Monday morning, the phone rings. You almost don't pick it up because you're already late for work. Absentmindedly you say a quick hello while digging for your car key. Brain busy with the huge to-do list you have for that morning, you snap into focus when you hear the terrifying news: your child was found on the floor of their college dorm room and is unresponsive.

Getting a frantic phone call that a child has suffered a serious injury or illness while far away at a university is a parent's worst nightmare. To add to the stress of worrying and traveling to them as soon as possible, you may not have any power over medical decisions; you might not even receive a status on their condition if your child is 18.

Setting up a living trust? Think about your personal items

Before you know it, the time comes to think about the future of your hard-earned money and cherished personal possessions. As you sit down to create a list of the unique items you want to pass to your children, grandchildren and other loved ones, you figure you'll just add it to the living trust that you'll be creating the following week. That document should protect all your assets. Sounds simple, right?

Not right. You may not be aware that other legal documents or conditions may need to be in place to pass along items within or apart from your living trust.

The New Yorker sheds light on elder abuse by guardians

The New Yorker recently wrote a compelling article showing how the elderly can lose their rights, belongings, and homes at the drop of a hat-all through legal events. The article tells the story of a married couple and the events that occurred when a county guardian gained legal rights to their care based on little more than one doctor's note.

The story highlights something that likely occurs more often than we even know-elderly family, friends and community members can be taken advantage of while you expect them to be in safe hands.

Hugh Hefner's estate planning was smart

Some Floridians may not think that Hugh Hefner was someone to look up to, but the way in which he planned his estate should serve as a model for everyone. A shrewd businessman, Hefner was equally shrewd with his estate plan.

Hefner managed to plan his estate in such a way that he was able to stay comfortable throughout his older years and to receive an annual stipend of $1 million. After his divorce from his second wife in 2010, Hefner approached a private equity firm to buy back the Playboy stock, investing none of his own money in the $207 million deal. At the time, the internet had exploded and Playboy was losing millions because of the competition online.

Florida assisted living residents given 'hurricane surcharge'

After Hurricane Irma recently tore through parts of Florida, some residents in an assisted living facility realized they were being charged $350. This seemingly extra charge occurring so soon after the inclement weather is making many residents believe it correlates to the hurricane and damages to the building caused by the storm.

Since facilities such as this are already supposed to provide certain levels of care, cleanliness, safety, resident activities and meals within the monthly cost, the unexpected surcharge was concerning to residents and those investigating the issue.

Probate courts get tricky when death isn't proven

Disaster struck when a newly married couple's catamaran began to sink in the night earlier this year. They have not recovered the wife's body, which leaves some open-ended questions, especially with regard to probate. One such question might be, what do the courts do when you can't legally prove the death of a spouse?

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek a presumptive death certificate. Currently, the husband in the scenario is doing exactly this based on the presumption his wife died at sea, and that her body will likely not be recoverable.

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