Can I cut out one of my children from the will?
Yes. Florida law does not require that you leave anything to your children. However, there are some practical considerations. For one, your child might bring a will contest. Even if this contest is frivolous, it can take time and money to litigate in probate court. You might want to make a small gift to your child, which might cause them to think twice about challenging the will.
Can I cut my spouse out of the will?
Not exactly. Florida has something called an elective share. Under this law, your spouse can elect to take 30% of your elective estate. This law overrides anything in your will. However, your spouse could also voluntarily give up their right to an elective share in a post-marital or pre-marital agreement. Discuss this option with an estate planning attorney.
Should I divide my estate equally between my children?
It depends on your goals. Sometimes, our clients want to divide things “fairly,” which might not mean equally. For example, you might have one child who is a lot younger and less established than your other children. He or she might need more assets when you die. By contrast, one of your children could be terrible with money and will blow any inheritance, so it might make sense to give this child less.
Another problem arises if you have a small business. Only one of your children might have been involved in the day-to-day operations, so it makes sense to leave him ownership of the business.
Is my mother too old to create a will?
A person needs capacity to make a valid will. This is a complex determination. It essentially means they are of sound mind and know what they are doing. We will gladly meet with anyone to discuss whether they lack capacity due to dementia or another illness.
Is an estate plan just a will?
No. A proper estate plan usually includes other documents, including advance directives and power of attorney. One reason to meet with a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer is to fully evaluate the documents you will need.
How do I leave retirement benefits or life insurance to my children?
These assets usually pass outside probate. When you open a life insurance policy, you designate a beneficiary. This is the person who will receive the proceeds if you die. This designation on the policy trumps whatever is in your will. The same is true of retirement accounts and some other assets.
We always consider non-probate assets when creating an estate plan. If you overlook them, then you might end up leaving too many assets to someone.
Is it too early to create an estate plan?
No! It’s never too early. Chances are, you have more assets than you are aware of. You also want to identify a personal representative who guides the estate through probate. Remember, you can always revise your estate plan later.
Who should I name as my personal representative?
It depends. Many people name their spouse or a child, and that makes sense. You know and trust these people. However, other people would benefit from naming someone else. Your estate might be too complex for your child to understand, or you might have lost touch with family. If your children are also aging, then they might not be up to the task.
The good news is you can name more than one personal representative. If your first choice can’t serve or declines to, your successor representative can step in.
When should I revise my estate plan?
It’s never a bad idea to take a fresh look at an estate plan to ensure it aligns with your current goals. But there are certain life events which should trigger a revision:
- You have a new child, or a child dies
- You get married, divorced, or remarried
- You acquire or inherit substantial assets
- Tax laws change
- You moved to Florida from a different state
- You start experiencing chronic health problems
- Your personal representative dies
At Loughlin Law, P.A., we are always happy to discuss whether you should update an estate plan.
Can I change my will in favor of my caretaker?
You can, but you want to work closely with a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer. For example, one child might have taken care of you in your golden years, so you want to reward them with a greater share of assets. You can do this, but making any change that benefits a caretaker raises all kinds of red flags. We can work closely with you to document why you are changing your estate plan so it is more likely to stand up to a legal challenge.