Diagnosed with Dementia? Here's What to Do Next

A dementia diagnosis affects more than just the person diagnosed. For years, we’ve watched Alzheimer’s disease strike the ones we love, affecting more than five million Americans – and growing.

Often known as “the long goodbye,” Alzheimer’s disease comes with a set of issues that can affect your family for years to come if not dealt with appropriately and in the right time.

 These issues are ones we’d like to help you avoid at Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood, Florida.

Maria Shriver, proud champion of Alzheimer’s disease research efforts, knows the devastation of the disease firsthand.  Her beloved father, Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and one-time candidate for Vice President of the United States, died of the disease in 2011 after being diagnosed in 2003.

Below are the five things that Shriver recently reported for NBC.com about what Alzheimer’s or dementia victims should do once a diagnosis has been confirmed:

1.     Execute powers of attorney and advance medical directives. 

Before cognitive impairment deteriorates, executing powers of attorney will allow for peace of mind. Appointing a trusted person to take over any financial and medical decisions in your place as the diseases progresses will mean you’ll be taken care of safely and appropriately.

2.     Create a will.

If you have not already created a will that carefully lays out how your assets will be distributed upon your death, now is the time to create one.  If you have already created a will while in good health, it would be wise to make necessary updates to beneficiaries or the addition of any assets you have acquired since creating your first draft. 

3.     Create an estate plan. 

Preserving your assets is a critical step once you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. An estate planning attorney can help you preserve these assets for the future which will ensure any long-term care you may need will be covered.

4.     Communicate

Receiving any diagnosis is not easy, but now is the time to openly communicate with family members, for emotional support, and especially to make important decisions for your care. Let them know where important documents are stored and be honest about your wishes and needs.  Part of our planning together will mean creating a recorded copy of your wishes for your family, to achieve clarity on your plan.

5.     Do not procrastinate. 

Receiving a progressive disease diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases means time is of the essence. Regardless of your age and current health status upon diagnosis, dementia will not wait until you have your financial affairs in order. Immediate action is necessary to put these protections in place for you and your family. 

More information and inspiration on dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases can be found at MariaShriver.com.

Call Grimaldi Law Firm to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Planning Session, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy remains protected and financial security will be guaranteed for your family.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Estate Planning for Children with Special Needs

As a leading estate planning attorney in South Florida, we are often faced with many questions regarding how to best plan for your financial future when children are involved. One important issue that must be prepared for properly, is how to set up your estate plan when you have a child or children with special needs.

At Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood, Florida, we make sure to not only educate parents about their rights and best practices, we ensure that your estate plan will have your child’s best needs at heart.

First things first: all parents, no matter their children’s age, learning capabilities or physical abilities, must have an estate plan.

 But just having a plan is not enough.

Here are three ways to ensure that your child with disabilities will be properly taken care of when you are no longer around.

1.     Do not leave anything directly to your child with special needs

One of the most important things to bear in mind when assembling your estate plan is that if your child needs to be cared for by you now, they will likely need caring for once you aren’t around, especially when it comes to handling finances. Instead, your estate should, at a minimum, flow through your own will into a special needs trust for your child's benefit. A properly drafted special needs trust will protect your child's benefits and allow your estate to be utilized as you intended without interference from outside sources.

 2.     Appoint a guardian carefully

Now is the perfect time to appoint someone that will be responsible for taking care of your child in the future. Because this kind of care will involve more time and attention than a typically-developing child would need, it is important to ensure you are choosing someone not just based on their relation to your child, but on how capable they are of caring for someone with special needs.

3.     Don’t forget about life insurance

You may have innocently listed your special needs child as a beneficiary to your life insurance policy, and that’s okay – this is common! While you are getting your financial plans in order, it’s important to remember that your life insurance policy should also be protected so that your child will not have outright access to its sum. Instead, place your child's share of these important assets into a properly configured special needs trust. And make sure to address these complicated tax issues first

Lastly, don’t forget to have this conversation with family members as well. While they may feel they are doing the right thing in leaving your special needs child money or property, you’ll want them to also understand the intricacies of estate planning for children with special needs.

And of course, for all your estate planning needs, Grimaldi Law Firm is here to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to set up a Family Planning Session.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Five Reasons to Never Give an Outright Inheritance To Your Children - and What to Do Instead!

Did you know that giving outright ownership of your assets to your children could put everything you’ve worked so hard to leave behind at risk?

Don’t worry, though. Grimaldi Law Firm is committed to ensuring your assets are taken care of safely and in the best way for your family. We are here to ensure you don’t run into any problems with ensuring your children are well-taken care of once you are no longer here.
Here are five reasons to hire an estate planning attorney in Florida to properly handle your future financial goals:

1.     Your Child’s Future Divorce

I know it’s not pleasant to think about, but considering recent statistics, it’s 42% likely your child will divorce during their lifetime. In most divorces, property is divided evenly. This means, if you have a married child, and you leave them an inheritance, as much as half of their inheritance could go to their ex-spouse should they choose to divorce.

2.     Extreme Debt/Bankruptcy

Debt happens – whether for reasons that involve student loans or even credit card debt, your child may incur such extreme debt that the only possible relief will come through bankruptcy. 

In the event of extreme debt, the inheritance you worked so hard to leave behind for your child could be compromised by debt collectors. The only way to ensure this is to protect this inheritance with legal help.

3.     Lawsuit

Unintended neglect that injures someone’s person or property could wipe out the inheritance you leave your children.  For example, ACE Financial Services, Inc. in 2012 found this lawsuit judgment that caused some unexpected inheritance drama:

●      $49 million in California for an automobile accident where the family of 21-year-old college student sued drivers of two vehicles involved in the multi-vehicle crash. The plaintiff was in a coma for one month and is expected to require lifetime 24-hour care. 

This is a prime example how, well-intended, but neglectful behavior on the part of your children could affect their financial futures forever.

4.     Mismanagement

According to Prof. Jay L. Zagorsky of Ohio State University, 40% of individuals inheriting less than $100,000 will spend or lose the entire inheritance and 18.7 % of individuals who inherit more than $100,000 will spend or lose the entire inheritance. If you’re worried about your child mismanaging their inheritance, you’re not alone.

    5. Lost Work Ethic: 

Vic Preisser, of the Institute for Preparing Heirs, has reported that unprepared children who inherit money are susceptible to excessive spending, identity loss, and guilt over receiving money they didn't earn. Additionally, Preisser says, "In a year to 18 months, everything falls apart -- marriage, finances -- and if there is a drug problem it becomes worse."

Clearly, outright inheritance for your children is not the best way to go.

Further, if the children are minors, they are not able to inherit!
We’ve got a plan for your family that is far, far better.

The Alternative:

An alternative to an outright inheritance to your children) is to gift your assets to your children at the time of your death via a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust.

A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust can be drafted to give your children full control of their inheritance (if you choose), but ensure they never own the inheritance. You are gifting your children with airtight asset protection, of the kind they couldn’t give themselves at any price. If your children ever get divorced, file bankruptcy, or are ordered to pay damages in a lawsuit, they can’t lose the inheritance, simply because they never owned it.

When you come in for a Family Planning Session at Grimaldi Law firm, if you desire to provide the most airtight form of asset protection for your child, and set up a structure that incentivizes them to invest and grow their inheritance rather than squander and waste it, we will discuss all the options with you then.

Because at Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Summer Safety Tips for Families in Florida

Take one step outside and you’ll immediately know that it’s almost summer in south Florida. Warmer weather, school vacation, and time off with the kids brings a whole new excitement and energy to any household – even my own.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, a leader in helping families safeguard their futures through estate planning, keeping kids safe and well-taken care of is a top priority.

As we all gear up to unofficially ring in the start of summer this Memorial Day Weekend in Florida, here are a few critical safety tips for children when the days get longer and the weather gets hotter.

1.     Master Water Safety

Water safety is a must when it comes to raising children in south Florida. If you plan on bringing your children around water, it’s important to know that just one second or glance in another direction is all it can take to bring about a tragedy. Some ways to keep your child safe amidst all the pool and beach excitement, according to this list from the CDC, include:

  • Always supervising children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Teaching kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Installing a four-sided fence around home pools.

2.     Say NO to Bugs

As the weather heats up, the mosquito bites start appearing with more frequency – a combination of the humidity that insects love so much, and more outdoor time with the family. With the recent Zika, West Nile, and Lyme Disease scares, all transmitted by insects it’s critical to arm yourself and your children with insect repellent and make a regular habit of checking your children for ticks.

3.     Prevent Injuries

Longer days, better weather, and more free time almost always lend itself to activity that could potentially cause injuries. Summer is a very popular time for playground falls, bicycle scrapes, and even worse, head injuries. Make sure to:

·       Check to make sure that the surfaces under playground equipment are safe, soft, and well-maintained.

·       Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment.

·       Use stair gates, which can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.

And of course, sunscreen. ALL the sunscreen. Your children should make sunscreen a part of their daily routine in Florida, with frequent reapplications throughout the day.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present, and we are happier knowing your children will have a safe and enjoyable summer!

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

 

Answers to the Top 6 Most Commonly Asked Mortgage Questions

As a real estate lawyer in Florida, I am asked a ton of questions about next steps when it comes to getting a mortgage for your new home.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, we are always happy to answer these questions and remain a trusted partner in this process. We know how challenging it may feel to get the right mortgage information in Florida, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer.

 In the interest in helping you move full speed ahead towards the home purchase of your dreams, here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions about the mortgage process.

1.     Should I bother trying to get a loan if my credit isn’t perfect?

Of course! Perfect credit is not very common, after all. If you’ve had any hiccups in your credit past, an FHA loan is what you’ll need to consider. Federal Housing Administration-insured loans are appealing because they're widely available to borrowers with imperfect credit. You need a credit score of 580 or higher to get an FHA-insured mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent. If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent to get an FHA mortgage.

2.     How much can I afford to borrow?

The golden rule here is that you should never borrow more than you are able to repay.  A common mistake first-time home buyers make is that they often stretch themselves thin to pay a mortgage that is higher than they’re able to pay, thinking they’ll be bringing in higher salaries over time. While this is a nice thought to have, you can’t buy a home based on what you don’t yet have, otherwise you end up house-poor, and this is not a fun place to be.

3.     How long will underwriting take?

Underwriting is the process between applying for your loan and finding out whether or not you are approved. Yes, this can take a while, and yes, you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time – this is normal, though! If your underwriting process is taking longer than usual, this isn’t a bad sign – it’s just the nature of the mortgage beast. Expect to wait a few weeks and in the interim, keep your credit as steady as possible by avoiding and extreme credit card purchases.

4.     Do I need to have money in the bank to secure a mortgage approval?

Yes! And this means a savings “reserve” that is not depleted once you purchase your new home. Lenders want to know that there will be enough money in your name to cover the mortgage payments they are approving you for so give yourself a little wiggle room and don’t spend your entire life savings on your new home’s down payment.

5.     What kind of down payment should I be prepared to make on my new home?

This is probably the most common question of all. Many people are under the impression that 20% is a typical down payment percentage, however this is not always the case. In some cases, some loan programs allow qualified buyers to make no down payment at all, or will even accept down payments as low as 3%.

 The Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees zero-down VA mortgages for qualified borrowers: veterans, active-duty service members and certain members of the National Guard and Reserves.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees zero-down mortgages as part of its Rural Development program. The loan guarantees are available in eligible areas -- mostly rural areas, though some are suburban.

Navy Federal Credit Union offers zero-down mortgages for qualified members to buy primary residences.

6.     Do I need to hire a Real Estate Attorney?

This is a given. Any time you are dealing with large sums of money when it comes to buying or selling property and signing contracts, it’s always best to have a trusted attorney on your side. Grimaldi Law Firm works with all types of lenders to ensure that all the lender's request are satisfied and the ensure that the property is free and client of any liens to protect the buyer and lender's investment in the property.

For answers to any more of your mortgage questions, contact us today!

At Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

 

 

Reasons to Establish a Trust in Florida

For most people, the words, “trust fund,” conjure up images of wealthy young college students on a golf course, or that new Bentley rolling into the nearest country club. As a wills and trust attorney in Florida, however, I’m here to tell you that you are all trust-worthy…

No matter how much money we’re worth.

Because a trust is nothing more than a vehicle used to transfer assets, many families opt to set up a trust to ensure that if something should happen to them while their children are still minors, assets will be appropriately distributed and allotted. According to a recent article at The Motley Fool, Trust Funds: They're Not Just for the Rich, and You Might Need One, trusts are especially useful for parents of minor children as well as those who wish to spare their beneficiaries the hassle of going to Court in the event of their incapacity or death.

Why would you want to avoid the court process, also known as Probate, in this case?

Well, maybe your assets are better left private – not a matter of public record. Perhaps your heirs, as lucky as they are to be receiving any inheritance, are not yet at the age where it is appropriate to share this kind of information with. When a trust is involved, however, you can rest assured that your matters will not be publicized. A trust is a private document and distributes assets upon your death without the need for probate.

Another downside to probate? The court process can take longer than is necessary and keep your family from getting access to your assets as quickly as they want or need them.

So, how does creating a trust for your family work?

With Grimaldi Law Firm, we’ll walk you through the entire process and ensure that all of your questions will be answered. We are, after all, gearing up to take care of your most precious assets of all – your family!

If you have minor children, you need to create a trust in order to leave your assets to them since minors cannot inherit directly. You will want to name a trustee to manage those assets for your children. Even if your children are adults, a trust can help protect assets you leave for them from creditors, legal judgments, divorce or even their poor money management habits.

In addition to this, you can even establish a trust for yourself. This would serve you well in the event you become incapacitated and cannot manage your own finances at some future time. Upon your incapacity, the trust assets are managed by a successor trustee, which avoids the need for a court-appointed conservator if you become incapacitated.

Trusts are also wonderful tools for those who are members of a blended family, the kind of family where a second marriage brings together children and inheritors from a previous marriage. If you are remarried and have children from a previous marriage, you can provide for your current spouse while ensuring your assets pass to your children from another marriage using a by-pass trust. With this kind of trust, the assets will pass to your children free of estate tax upon the death of your surviving spouse.

I’m sure, by now, it’s abundantly clear why a trust is necessary no matter your financial standing. You can learn more about how a trust might benefit you and your family by calling Grimaldi Law Firm to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, your present is our future.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Relocating to Florida? Check Out These Relocation Tips and Resources

Being a real estate attorney in Florida means that I am constantly being asked about what the process of relocating to Florida entails. I, too, am a transplant whose family successfully relocated to the sunshine state from out of the country back when I was a child.

And if you’re thinking of relocating to Florida, I can’t say that I blame you.

Life in Florida is pretty sweet!

But before you pack up and head south, there are a few things that we at Grimaldi Law Firm want you to know. Whether you’re making a full time move down to the sunshine state or are simply looking to purchase a vacation property – we’re happy to help educate you on some Florida tips and tidbits.

1.     Even in a beautiful location, location still matters.

Believe it or not, there are people who move to Florida for reasons other than enjoying more time on the beach. Living on the beach is pretty great, but there are also advantages of living inland as well! Considering your proximity to what matters most to you and your family means more than the landscape for a full-time move – such as school districts, safe neighborhoods, and family-friendly communities.

2.     Taxes & Insurance

Florida has always been a prime location for home buyers considering how much cheaper taxes are in certain areas of the state. One thing to remember though, in a state that has a whole season dedicated to hurricanes, is that what you save in taxes, you may be spending on homeowner’s insurance. In addition to this, insurance companies will insist your new home has hurricane shutters and even hurricane impact windows in some cases, and this can add up quick!

3.     Speaking of weather, plan accordingly.

If you’re thinking of relocating to Florida just for the summer months, please be aware that the summer weather in Florida is highly unpredictable – and wet! During hurricane season, you can expect rain at least once a day, and we’re not just talking a light drizzle! If you don’t mind the heat and humidity in summer, then this won’t be an issue, but for elderly couples who may be affected by the intense Florida summers, this is worth taking note.

4.     Homestead Exemption

A Florida favorite, most new homebuyers in the state of Florida are privy to an amazing exemption! As we recently reported, Florida is a homestead state, meaning Florida homeowners can file for a homestead exemption worth up to $50,000. This exemption reduces the amount of taxes you’ll pay on your property, and puts a cap on how much your taxes might increase on a yearly basis without it. Click here to learn if you qualify for this exemption!

The most important tip of all? Hire a real esatate attorney before entering into a contract!
Florida is very transient state and fraud is not uncommon. Make sure you are protected and of course, ask questions! Relocating is exciting, and we want to help you through this process by answering any questions you may have. Because at Grimaldi Law Firm, your future is our present.

Check out this list of resources to help you with learning more about:

  • ·      Real Estate Listings
  • ·      Florida Tax Information
  • ·      Florida Communities
  • ·      Facts on Florida
  • ·      Schools
  • ·      Drivers Licenses and Motor Vehicle Registration

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Celebrity Mistakes to Avoid When Updating Your Estate Plan

The entire world stops in its tracks when a celebrity dies. Sure, a personality we knew and loved is now longer, and that is sad. As an estate planning attorney, however, I always see these events as an opportunity to make an example of the real tragedy:

The estate plan that hasn’t been updated.

It’s a natural reaction to take charge of a situation once it’s made an impact on us, and this is precisely why I like to use the example of celebrities who have botched their estate plans. It doesn’t matter whether you have $1,000 or $1,000,000,000 – your money, your possessions, and your desires should be your own, both in life and after. That’s why, if your estate plan is written when you are the proud owner of not very much, and you die with lots more, your family may inherit way less than you could give them.

Take Whitney Houston and her untimely passing as an example. According to reports made by the AARP, she did have a will when she drowned in February 2012, but it was very outdated. “Drawn up a month before the 1993 birth of Houston's only child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, the will was never revised — not even as the singer's became worth close to $20 million. Bobbi Kristina was 18 when her mother died, and under the will's terms was to receive 10 percent of the estate — $2 million — when she turned 21 and the rest later. By not updating her will, Houston failed to consider whether her daughter was mature enough to handle millions of dollars, Mayoras says. Even "$50,000 all at once to a 21-year-old could be too much," he says. Bobbi Kristina got the $2 million but not the rest of her inheritance. “

Don’t pull a Whitney.

Here are some additional steps that Grimaldi Law Firm can help you take to be sure your estate plan remains valid:

Make it easy to find. Locking it away in a safety deposit box will mean that upon your passing, a court order will be needed to access it. Put somewhere easy to find where your beneficiaries or a trusted source can access it easily.

Make wise choices in executors. And definitely choose more than one. You will want to ensure that you have backups if for some reason your primary choice cannot serve. Of course, whomever you choose should be made aware of the task they may have to take on, so long as they are willing. 

Avoid contradictions in your estate plan. Be sure that your will does not contradict any choices you make for beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, life insurance policy, etc.

Name guardians. One of the most important things you can do if you have minor children is to name a guardian in your will. If that person cannot serve as a guardian, you will need to have named a second choice in the will to ensure the future of your children does not end up in the hands of a stranger. We have a free report we can send you on six common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their children. These are mistakes you will want to avoid! Please contact our office for a free copy of this valuable report.

Beware of unintentional disinheritances. A remarriage changes things up a bit. If you are remarried and have children from your first marriage and want to provide for them as well as your current spouse, you will need to update your estate plan. If you wish to disinherit someone intentionally, you should specifically state these intentions in your will.

Get professional guidance. Wills and other estate planning documents downloaded from the Internet will not be tailored to the specific needs of your family. This may seem like a quick fix, but unless you have the support of a professional and knowledgeable attorney, you may not be avoiding the mistakes that could jeopardize your family’s financial future.

The best way to learn about protecting your family is to talk with us at Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood about a Family Wealth Planning Session. Together, we can identify the best strategies for you to provide for and protect the financial security of your loved ones.

Grimaldi Law Firm, where your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

 

 

 

How to Tackle Estate Planning if You Don’t Plan on Getting Married

Marriage. It isn’t for everyone, and these days, more and more couples are opting to forego the marriage document, as there are now 15 million people living together, unmarried. At Grimaldi Law Firm, a leader in Florida Estate Planning Law, there is one thing that certainly is for everyone, and that’s protecting your future whether you believe in marriage or not.

Whatever your reasons are for not tying the knot, you cannot ignore the responsibility to still care for the loved ones you’ll one day leave behind.

Here are some tips and strategies for making the most of the estate planning process with your significant other when marriage just isn’t in the cards:

1.      Retirement Plans

What happens to all that retirement money that you worked so hard to save throughout your lifetime? Once you’re no longer living, you’ll want to make sure it goes to your partner and will need the right paperwork to make that happen. You will likely need a beneficiary designation.

Think having a will is going to cover you? A beneficiary designation takes priority over any will. The same goes for life insurance policies, so make sure you update the beneficiary of those policies as well. 

Also, consider your rollover/distribution options. In many cases companies discriminate against unmarried couples by forcing the non-spouse beneficiary to take a taxable lump-sum distribution of the entire amount.

2.      Account and Property Titling

 It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived with your partner. If you’re unmarried and you survive your significant other, you are not guaranteed the right to keep or live in the home (especially if there are children from a previous marriage involved).  Even if that property has been your home for years!

There a few ways to ensure you can stay put in your home should you survive your partner:

Tenants in Common or Other Joint Ownership:     This allows ownership of a property by more than one person, regardless of their percentage of ownership. Not only does this allow you to be able to stay in the house upon the death of a partner, upon the sale of the property, each party receives their specific investment and share.

Trusts:    A trust is a surefire way to guarantee legal protection of your property and monetary assets if you are in a domestic partnership. Just like in a marriage, a trust would be drawn up to delegate assets, properties, or any investments in the way you want. The trust will have a clear cut blueprint of the legalities of what would happen if the trustee (the owner of the trust) dies, becomes disabled or becomes unable to transact on their own behalf.

3.      Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney

 These are critical documents for anyone, whether single, married, or in a domestic partnership.

Living Will and Health Care Surrogate Designation

A living will is a legal document that describes your end-of-life wishes and decisions. This is important to ensure that if there comes a time when you no longer can speak for yourself, that your wants and health care desires are still carried out in a way that suits you and by the person that you wish.

Will

A will is the legal document that goes into detail about all your assets, and who will be named the beneficiaries once you pass away. Keep in mind that any retirement and brokerage accounts as well as life insurance policies will supersede your will, so make sure the beneficiary on those documents is the correct person to be making said decisions. Without this document, your assets will not be left to a non-married partner.  The state’s law will decide who it will be left to and this will likely not be who you want it to be.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney gives a person the ability to act on your behalf when dealing with legal and financial matters. The person you choose should be a trusted family member or close friend who you can confide in and know with certainty that they will make sure your wants are executed accordingly, especially if you are ever mentally or physically unable to manage your own affairs.  A spouse may sometimes have access to certain accounts or decisions but not an unmarried partner.

There is not a one size fits all family nor a one size fits all estate plan.  Make sure your estate plan addresses your family’s needs… no matter what it looks like.

For any more information on how you can achieve peace of mind for your future regardless of whether or not you and your partner take a walk down the aisle, connect with Grimaldi Law Firm today.

Grimaldi Law Firm is an estate planning, real estate, business, and probate law firm located in Hollywood, Florida.

At Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood Florida, your future is our present.

 About the Author:  Melinda Grimaldi is an attorney in Hollywood, Florida, whose practice is concentrated in the areas of commercial and residential real estate and estate planning law. 

 She can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

 Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

The Importance of Checking In with Aging Family During the Holidays

Another holiday season is upon us, and whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover, you’re likely gearing up to visit with family you haven’t seen in a while.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, a leader in estate planning, real estate, probate and business law, we value family time more than anything! Not only is this a time to connect, enjoy, and celebrate – it’s a time to check in on those you love most.

If you are fortunate enough to have your parents joining you for this week’s celebrations, bear in mind that this is also a perfect opportunity to “check in.”  Or, more specifically, for adult children to perform a reality check on how their aging parents are doing health-wise, as well as assess financial and medical planning issues.

Remember, your parents spent 18 years or more taking the best care of you, so the cycle of life insists you do the same.

Three things to check for when visiting with your parents:

1.      Check your elderly relatives’ home for potential fall hazards. 

2.      Check for unopened mail. This is often a telltale sign that they are having a hard time caring for themselves or coping on their own.

3.      Check the pantry and refrigerator to ensure it is well stocked with healthy and nutritious options.  If a parent has lost weight or there is spoiled food around, this is a sign that they may need some additional help around the house.

Three things to do before you leave:

1.      Make a list of all your parents’ medications, get the phone numbers of their primary care physicians, and leave these numbers in a clear and visible place, like the refrigerator in case a parent should feel ill. 

2.      Be sure you have the license numbers of all vehicles in case one is stolen or your parent goes missing.

3.      Make decisions with your parents regarding health care directives. If they have not yet set up their estate planning documents, it’s time to help them create one.

If you’d like to learn more about wills, living wills, advance health care directives, power of attorney for health care designations or any other aspects of estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call Grimaldi Law Firm today, and mention this article to reserve your free spot.

At Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood Florida, your future is our present.  

 About the Author:  Melinda Grimaldi is an attorney in Hollywood, Florida, whose practice is concentrated in the areas of commercial and residential real estate and estate planning law. 

 She can be reached at (954) 491-8707

or

melinda@grimaldi-law.com

 Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.