Many Floridians are likely aware of the need for an estate plan. The use of various documents to dispose of property and protect both assets and oneself in the case of incapacity has been written about voluminously. Further, many resources have cropped up, especially on the internet, ostensibly allowing people to create their own legally valid estate plan documents.
Estate planning is about assets, certainly, but it is also about something more: how one's life's work will continue to affect others once one is gone. Or, to put it more simply, what one leaves as a legacy.
As many Florida residents may know, the use of trusts in estate planning has become a relatively common practice. Trusts are a useful way of avoiding probate and attempting to ensure that assets are distributed according to one's wishes. Trusts can also protect assets from waste by a financially irresponsible beneficiary.
Florida residents may remember the Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in February. Now, people with knowledge of his estate are suggesting that its structure may not have been the best possible one from a financial standpoint.
In an age when pensions have gone the way of cassette tapes and laser disks, many people are planning for retirement through the use of Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs. The advantage to these accounts is that, with a so-called simple IRA, money is placed into the account before being taxed, thus reducing the account holder's yearly taxable income by the amount saved. This money is generally invested and, hopefully, is worth much more than was originally put into it when the account holder is ready to retire. Then, the money is taxed when it is withdrawn from the account.
Many residents of Florida know that having an estate plan is an important part of making certain that one's loved ones are taken care of in the event one is no longer able to do so. Often, the people most at risk are those that are especially vulnerable and unable to care for themselves, such as very young children or children with special needs.
Millions of people around the world mourned the recent death of anti-Apartheid hero Nelson Mandela. Mandela's legacy of standing up to oppression, yet forgiving his enemies, and working to bring South Africans together will hopefully remain strong through the years. Some of the leader's relatives, though, are proving that families all over the world can act similarly when money is at stake.
When many people think of estate planning, they think of those documents needed to distribute their property, and possibly those that concern their own medical care. However for people with minor children, distribution of assets is not the only consideration, and probably not even the most important.
Haven Hospice presented a learning opportunity for residents of Florida's Central East Coast on a recent Wednesday. The lecture and lunch was held at the Palm Coast Community Center, and the event was free with pre-registration.