Floridians may have heard the estate planning term "living will." Some may be a bit confused by the phrase and how it differs from what they may think of as a "regular" will. First, it is important to understand that a "living will" isn't really a will, in the technical sense. That is why the term is increasingly being replaced with the terms "health care advanced directive" or "health care proxy." These are the terms recognized by Florida law and they make more sense and differentiate an important document from a last will and testament.
Florida residents who have families are likely aware that having life insurance is a way to help ensure that loved ones have the resources to handle the aftermath of one's death. But there are several types of life insurance, and policies can vary greatly in value. Because of this, it may not be obvious exactly how a life insurance policy fits into an estate plan.
"Snowbirds" is a term that has been used for many years to describe people who make the trip south to Florida every fall and stay until spring before returning north for the summer. The state welcomes snowbirds with open arms, as they add a vibrant diversity to Florida's culture, as well as being a boom to local economies. If you are a snowbird, or simply in the process of relocating to Florida from another state, you may wish to consider the effects that establishing a "domicile" in Florida may have on your estate plan.
Most people who are over 30 likely remember the name Terri Schiavo. This is probably especially true of those of you in Florida. The Schiavo case captured the attention of the nation, and its politicians, and remains controversial today. No matter what you think of the controversy, there is a lesson to be taken from that case, where a husband and parents found themselves in court litigating, in front of the entire nation, whether Terri should or should not be taken off life support.
Many Florida residents may have heard of, or read about, the benchmarks that smart people use to determine their goals for retirement savings. Depending on whom one asks, this can be a million dollar figure, or a certain percentage of your current income. Some experienced financial professionals, however, say that a static figure is not best for everyone, and that proper retirement planning may require a more introspective approach than simply pulling a figure out of the literature.
In a survey done in 2012 by a legal website, it was indicated that only about 41% of members of the "baby-boom" generation have a will. Reportedly, even smaller numbers of individuals belonging to younger generations have an estate plan. Due to the high number of retirees in Flordia, these numbers have an even larger impact than in other states. According to people in the estate-planning field, there are several legal documents that people should secure sooner rather than later.
Perhaps the most important thing any Florida resident should do when estate planning is to write and properly execute a will. Without a valid will, a person's estate passes to relatives according to state law. A valid will directs the court on how to distribute the estate according to the person's own wishes. However, a will can't do everything, and there are times when a well-crafted estate plan needs something more.
Florida law requires that valid wills be in written form. Orally telling another person how one wants to legally divide one's estate will is generally not enforceable in court. Nevertheless, Floridians need to understand that merely writing the will may not be enough either. The document must meet certain legal standards, and, sometimes, a directive in the will may be found to be invalid, even if the will is otherwise properly executed.
Many Floridians realize, especially as they get older, that they will not live forever. Most probably understand that they need to plan for how their worldly goods will be distributed after they are gone. It is also important, however, that one's estate plan contain some plan for disposal of one's own mortal remains.
As is being widely reported, the divorce rate amongst the baby boomer generation has remained steady, even as the rate amongst other age groups has declined. Older people whose children are now out on their own are getting divorced, and states with large populations of older people, such as Florida, are affected by the trend. Because divorces are difficult and there are so many considerations, one important aspect that often gets short shrift is a divorced person's retirement and estate plan.