minor children

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.

Estate Planning in Florida – Don’t Set It and Forget It!

Estate Planning in Florida, in the larger sense, can really be looked at like exercise. You know you’d be better off doing it, and even though you have to convince yourself to make the first move – you know you’ll feel great once you get the job done.

But just like exercise, you can’t just do it once, and then expect the effects to have you covered for life.

In fact, it’s not this way at all.

At Grimaldi Law Firm a Hollywood estate planning, real estate and probate law firm, we preach consistency when it comes to our first practice area. Time and time again, I remind my clients of the following fact: “Estate planning is not a one-time, set it and forget it task. If this is your approach, it will give you a false sense of security. Your estate plan should be revisited every 2-3 years, on top of any life event that may occur in between.”

In short? This is not an area of your life you should procrastinate on or sweep under the rug for a later time. There is no better time to create your estate plan, set specific times to revisit your plan, update accordingly as per the changes in your life – and be an advocate for your family’s financial and emotional future.

Why?

Estate planning serves to meet a few critical goals:

1. To ensure that children will be cared for by the people you want, in the way that you want

2. To protect against unwanted guardians in the event of an untimely death

3. To prevent foster care and state involved protective custody

4. To provide a financial plan that will ensure your children are taken care of

5. To make sure your family can receive the benefit of your life’s work and continue your business.

6. to Ensure your assets transfer smoothly to the next generation and, if possible, avoid probate.

7. In the event of incapacity, ensure your financial matters are taken care of and that your health care wishes are respected.

Once you have a plan, here are the crucial times to make sure you revisit your plan to keep things up to date and timely:

1. When a child is born

2. When your children reach school-age, revisit in case your original listed guardians are no longer alive or able to care for your child

3. If your child is diagnosed with a disability or has special needs that may impact how they need to be cared for

4. If you’ve started a business or made changes to an entrepreneurial venture that would require new information for your family to take into account once inheriting the business

5. When you’ve entered retirement and have different expectations for your surviving family

6. If you’ve experienced a crisis

7. If a child has become ill or passed away

8. If you’ve experienced an accident that requires long-term care

9. If you divorce and need to make changes to who acts on your behalf should you become incapacitated

10. If you are single and don’t know who would receive your assets or make healthcare decisions on your behalf

11. If you become a blended family

12. If you are a same sex couple or enter into a domestic partnership.

13.  If you relocate to another state of country.

As evidence by this long list, change is constant. One thing that should also be constant? How often you look into updating your estate plan. Make sure you’re covered and protected with Grimaldi Law Firm, located just minutes southwest of Fort Lauderdale.  At Grimaldi Law Firm, we provide our clients a free review of their estate plan every 3 years.

At Grimaldi Law Firm, 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.

 

POM PLAN

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Peace of mind. What does it mean to you? For the Grimaldi Law Firm, a leading estate planning law firm in Florida, there is nothing we celebrate more than peace of mind.

For some it may mean having little stress to deal with in day to day life. It may mean turning on an alarm system at night and knowing that your family is safe and sound. For others, it may mean financial security.

But for Grimaldi Law Firm, peace of mind means taking the steps necessary to protect your family should something happen to you, because there is nothing better than being prepared for life’s bumpy roads.

I may be an attorney specializing in real estate, wills and trusts, and probate law in Florida, but first and foremost, I am a mom. A new mom, at that. And it wasn’t until I became a mother to my son did I realize the importance of having a plan that would ensure that no matter what – my son would be taken care of should something happen to me. This was the peace of mind I needed to sleep soundly at night, and ultimately, the peace of mind I found other new moms around me needing.

With this, my Peace of Mind (POM) Plan, was also born.

The Grimaldi Law Firm’s POM Plan means you’ll achieve peace of mind by working together with me, personally, to put together a customized plan for your family. I will work alongside you and your family, offering comprehensive guidance to ensure that your children will be cared for by the people you want, in the way that you want, in case something happens to you.

The Family Piece of Mind (POM) Plan spares no details when it comes to developing a plan for your family’s future. From legal documents naming short-term guardians to medical powers of attorney for your minor children, you can rest assured that Grimaldi Law Firm will protect your family as if it were our own.

What else can you expect from a POM Plan?

• A custom, personalized wallet I.D. card with emergency contact information.

• Letters to the people you name as short-term guardians so the people you’ve named will know just what to do if called upon.

• Explicit instructions for how to care for your kids in the event you are in an accident

• Legal documents to name long-term guardians who will raise your children just as you would to avoid any family custody battles.

• Letters to your long-term guardians letting them know what to do if called upon.

• Instructions and guidelines for your long-term guardians on how you want your kids to be raised, including the values that are important to you.

The thing is, your family’s future does not just depend on making sure money is distributed amongst the people you love. It doesn’t mean only determining which child gets to keep the china, or who inherits your heirlooms. It means EVERY last detail is accounted for, and at the Grimaldi Law Firm, 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.

6 Cases When a Trust is Better Than a Will in South Florida

A will is one of the most basic South Florida estate planning documents, and everyone should have one to make sure that there is no question about what would happen to your assets and kids if something happens to you.  But there are some cases when having a trust in addition to a will is imperative; here are six of them:

Avoiding probate.  A trust will bypass the probate process, saving the people you love time and money.  To carry out instructions in a will, a probate must be opened in the county court of Broward or Miami-Dade, the county where you live, and that means your family is stuck dealing with the Court if you get hospitalized or after you die.  This can take an average of 9-12 months, all  the while your assets will be stuck in the process.

Providing for a person with special needs.  If you have a child or another dependent with special needs, a trust commonly known as a Special Needs Trust can protect assets for a special needs person without jeopardizing their qualification for government benefits.  A will allows you to transfer assets to a special needs person, but will not protect those assets.

Privacy.  Since a will undergoes probate in South Florida, it becomes public record.  A trust is private.

Blended families.  If you are part of a blended family, a trust can give you the flexibility you will want to make sure that children from prior marriages are provided for in the way you want.

Out-of-state property.  If you own property in another state besides South Florida, you can more easily transfer ownership via a trust than a will.  Transferring out-of-state property in a will usually means additional legal expenses because you could have probate in multiple states and that is no fund for the people you love.  This can be VERY expensive!

Asset protection.  If you want to protect the assets you leave your loved ones from creditors (including bankruptcy and divorce) a trust is the way to do it. It’s a gift you can give your loved ones that they could not easily (or at all) give themselves. 

If you would like to learn more about the use of trusts in South Florida to pass on what you care about to the people you love, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family 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 today and mention this article.

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.