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Charitable trust can play important role in estate planning

Most Floridians who engage in estate planning do so to protect their loved ones. Usually this means creating a will and trust to dictate how assets are to be left to a surviving spouse and children. Yet, estate planning isn't limited to these circumstances. In fact, many utilize trusts to further endeavors that they support, whether it be a business, an educational institution, or a nonprofit organization. Those who are interested in leaving a legacy of goodwill may, therefore, want to consider utilizing a charitable trust.

Generally speaking, a trust is a legal vehicle that allows an individual to pass assets on to another party, while often retaining a certain amount of control over those assets through the implementation of conditions. So, for example, an individual can create a trust that releases assets only upon a child enrolling in college or reaching a certain age. But, of course, giving to charity is about much more than simply persuading them to take certain actions.

Property division includes marital debts

As we have discussed multiple times on this blog, divorce can have much more than just an emotional toll. In fact, it may be the biggest financial transaction of an individual's life. While the focus of property division is usually on determining marital assets and divvying them up in a way that is fair, Floridians considering marriage dissolution shouldn't overlook the fact that they will also need to deal with marital debts.

These debts can take many forms. Mortgages, auto loans, and credit card debt may all be subjected to division during divorce, which means that those who fail to adequately argue their position may wind up saddled with debt they never expected to be responsible for. But, how does an individual know which debts might be a part of this process?

Orlando firm ready to help address child custody issues

Marriage dissolution can present a number of issues that must be sorted through before the parties can move on with their lives. Although many people who are facing divorce simply want to get the matter over with as quickly as possible, they need to take the time needed to ensure a fair and appropriate outcome that protects not only their best interests, but also the best interests of their children.

Recently, we discussed how a parenting plan can help provide post-divorce unity when raising children. These agreements can provide children with much needed consistency, and it can help alleviate parents' concerns about how their children are being raised when they are with their other parent. When properly negotiated and executed in writing, these agreements can be extremely beneficial.

Divorce rates spike in summer

For many, summer brings thoughts of relaxation, outdoor gatherings, and more time together with family and friends. Summer holidays, kids home from school and family vacations often conjure thoughts of laughter, fun and togetherness.

If your marriage is struggling, however, spending more time with your spouse may instead result in anxiety, stress and frustration. In fact, the summer months are often a time for making difficult choices about whether to remain in the marriage. Family law professionals suggest taking some time over the summer to obtain information about the process, which could help you make a wise decision.

Aretha Franklin's handwritten wills may pose problems

Many Floridians may think that it's obvious how they want their assets to be divided upon their death. Even if this is the case, poor estate planning can fail to bring those wishes into reality. Instead, the absence of an estate plan or the presence of a confusing or inadequate estate plan can set families up for internal strife and litigation. This is why competent estate planning is critical from the get-go, and modifications to a plan need to be clear and easily understood.

One can look at the estate of famed singer Aretha Franklin as an example of how estate planning can go wrong. At first, everyone thought that Franklin passed away without a will. Recently, however, three handwritten wills were discovered in her home. Since certain requirements must be met before a will can be deemed legally valid, questions immediately arose as to whether these wills were enforceable.

Paternity: fathers play a critical role in children's development

Across Florida there are many children that are born out of wedlock. This can and often does present a number of issues. For example, a custodial parent, which in this case would be the child's mother, may struggle to carry the financial burden of raising that child to the age of majority. On the other hand, fathers may have trouble developing a relationship with their child, especially considering the fact that they are not automatically bestowed with legal rights to the child.

Yet, studies have shown the importance of father participation in the raising of a child. To start, children who have fathers involved in their lives tend to develop higher IQs compared to those children whose fathers are uninvolved in their lives. Additionally, toddlers who have playful and communicative fathers usually develop better cognitive abilities and language skills. When fathers are supportive and caring of their children, then their children are typically better equipped to handle the stresses of school. In fact, studies show that these children are more likely to receive A's on their schoolwork compared to those children whose fathers are uninvolved.

What counts as income for child support purposes?

The cost of raising a child to the age of majority is staggering. While parents who live together through marriage or partnership can share the expenses associated with bringing a kid to age, those parents who don't live together can find themselves amidst a dispute about who should pay for what with regard to child rearing. In Florida, raising a child is the legal responsibility of both parents, which is why child support orders are issued and are legally enforceable.

Of course, the exact amount of child support owed depends on a number of factors. Although the state looks to child support guidelines as a starting point, court-ordered support may deviate from those recommendations if the facts warrant it. Therefore, it behooves Floridians to familiarize themselves with the child support calculation process so that they can create legal arrangements that are in the child's best interests.

We help people of all economic classes with estate planning

Media stories about estate planning usually involve the ultra-wealthy and the famous. Oftentimes these individuals have neglected to utilize the appropriate legal documents to ensure that their assets are passed down without conflict. As a result, disputes sometimes arise which can leave an estate's assets diminished and deceased loved ones unable to recover the assets to which they feel entitled.

Although estate planning issues often arise with those individuals who are wealthy and have complex estates, the estate planning process isn't solely reserved for them. Instead, everyone can benefit from estate planning. By creating a thorough estate plan, an individual can ensure that his or her financial assets and health care preferences are protected in the event of incapacity, and that assets are distributed in accordance with his or her wishes. This can save time, money and familial strife. It can also leave an individual with peace of mind knowing that his or her estate is adequately addressed.

Setting up a parenting plan that encourages unified parenting

Nearly every parent here in Orlando, or anywhere else for that matter, knows that many kids rival the best psychologists, interrogators and con artists in the world. If they can find a weakness in their parents' solidarity, they will exploit it. Even though this is meant to be a lighthearted take on how children attempt to manipulate their parents into getting what they want, it has enough of a bite to keep parents on their guard.

Presenting a united front challenges even happily married parents, so if you are in the midst of a divorce, you may already understand that you and the other parent need to find a way to remain a team even though your marriage is ending.

The benefits of a special needs trust

Estate planning is about much more than determining who will inherit a painting, piece of jewelry or a house after an individual's death. It can also be about giving to charity, taking care of one's pets, and planning for a disabled individual's health care. This latter category is significant for many reasons, including the fact that health care costs can quickly eat into the value of an estate.

This is why many Floridians choose to utilize special needs trusts. These trusts allow an individual to put assets, oftentimes cash, away for a named beneficiary's future use to pay for medical care and other expenses. The biggest benefit of this type of trust is that it can allow an individual to retain government benefits that have strict income and asset requirements. For example, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income may be unavailable to those with large estates, but assets placed into a special needs trust can reduce countable assets for these government programs' qualification purposes.

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