Estate Planning for Families
Families who have young children or are considering having children are typically too busy and distracted to consider what will happen to them after they die. Our Florida and Palm Beach County estate planning attorneys hear this all the time. A few simple steps taken early on can help prepare your family for any contingencies and ultimately bring you peace of mind.
If you are part of a family with children, let the experienced Florida and Palm Beach County estate planning attorneys at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun help you make your early estate planning simple and productive. Our legal team is experienced in asset protection planning and estate planning and administration. We have an understanding of the various state and federal laws involved in addressing your needs, as well as the practical experience to fashion an estate plan designed for the specific circumstances of yourself, your spouse, and your children.
Creating a Will in Florida
For most parents, the early undertaking of creating a will is more about naming a guardian for your children than it is about distributing your assets. The guardian named in your will is the person who would be responsible for raising your children in the rare circumstance that something happened to both of you and you were unable to serve as their parent.
If your children need a guardian and you have a will, the court would appoint the person you nominated in your will, absent some type of serious issue with that person. If you haven’t created a will or some other legal device naming a preferred guardian, however, the court would choose someone without any preferences available from you. Typically, the court would choose a family member but would be unable to know that you’d have preferred one particular family member or even a close friend.
Be aware that there may be intra-family disputes when choosing a guardian because the choice is always a difficult one. Nonetheless, the best time to choose a guardian is a time when you have the luxury of time for meaningful discussions with your spouse and the ultimate preferred guardian.
The other main reason to create a will is that if you or your spouse died, some of your assets may go not to your spouse, but directly to your children, depending on your state’s intestacy laws. Most people prefer to direct the distribution of their assets personally rather than allow the state to decide for them.
Creating a Living Will and Durable Powers of Attorney in Florida
All adults should have an advance medical directive, commonly known as a “living will,” and durable powers of attorney, one for health care and another for finances. If sudden death or debilitating illness should strike, these legal instruments will make things easier for your family.
The Basics of a Living Will Explained by a Florida and Palm Beach County Estate Planning Attorney
Your living will sets out your wishes for end-of-life care, in as much or as little detail as you prefer. For example, you might simply say that you don’t want to receive any extraordinary measures such as CPR, but do want everything necessary to relieve pain.
What is a Health Care Surrogate?
A health care surrogate allows you to give a specified person the authority to carry out the wishes set out in your living will and to make other medical decisions if you are unable.
About a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
A DPOA for finances functions like a DPOA for health care, except it gives the specified person authority over your assets. This can be very helpful for family members, who might need immediate access to your assets to pay for ongoing expenses, such as mortgage payments or car payments. A full-blown court proceeding, through order and/or judgment, may the only recourse absent a DPOA for finances.
Purchasing Life Insurance in Florida
Life insurance functions as a financial planning tool that can be a very valuable asset for your estate. One of the primary benefits of life insurance is that it is more affordable to buy when you’re young and healthy. Purchasing a life insurance policy that would replace your earnings for a number of years may ensure your family does not have to deal with financial stress during an otherwise terrible time. The proceeds from a life insurance policy will provide your surviving family members access to the cash necessary to get on with their lives in a financially stress-free environment.
Term life insurance and whole life insurance each have their own positives and negatives, and the Florida and Palm Beach County estate planning lawyers at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun can help you decide which is best for you and your family.
Designating Beneficiaries for Your Retirement Accounts
The last simple step to take in estate planning is to name beneficiaries for all of your retirement accounts, including IRAs and 401(k) accounts. You’ve likely already done this as a requirement for opening these types of accounts, so a simple review to make sure the proceeds will go where you want them to is likely all that is necessary. You can change your designated beneficiaries during times specified by the policy if your circumstances change.
If you are not taking advantage of employer-matching retirement accounts, and you are able to, you should invest a percentage of your paycheck that is at least equal to the amount matched by your employer, since your employer’s contributions are free money for you.
Let Our Florida and Palm Beach County Estate Planning Lawyers Help with Your Family’s Estate Planning
Parents with children, especially young children, should seriously consider creating an estate plan that ensures that their estates will be administered according to their wishes and that their children will be placed with an appropriate guardian of their choice and will be financially cared for.
At Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun, we have a legal team with attorneys experienced in not only asset protection planning and estate planning and administration, but also in the related fields of estate litigation, trust and trust administration, probate, tax planning, mediation, and business transactions.