More Difficult Questions in the Estate Planning Process
At the end of the holiday season and the start of the New Year, many Tampa residents will begin thinking more carefully about estate planning and the need to draw up a variety of documents in the event of expected or unexpected death. Some Floridians will begin the process of estate planning in the unlikely event that they need various trusts and estates documents in place, while others will begin the process because they are ill or aging.
Last week, we cited an article in Forbes that discusses some of the more difficult questions that need to be asked and answered in the estate planning process. Now, we want to finish that list and address some remaining tough questions that you may need to consider when you begin the process of estate planning.
- Have You Made Any Large Gifts to Family Members or Friends During Your Lifetime?
If any of your children, friends, or other family members have needed a significant amount of financial support from you at any point in your life and you gave them a monetary gift of more than $13,000, it is important to keep track of whether this gift was reported properly for tax purposes on a federal gift tax return. Even if the gift is not taxable, you likely still needed to report it. If you made an error and a past gift was not reported, your estate planning attorney can help you to make corrections and can plan to mitigate tax consequences on any future gifts.
- Have You Considered Whether You Want Life Support or Lifesaving Treatment If You Become Unresponsive?
This is a question that gets at issues surrounding health care advance directives. Does anyone in your family know whether you want life support or lifesaving treatment if you enter into a minimally conscious state (also known as a persistent vegetative state)? And have you asked any particular person in your family—whether it is a spouse, your child, or someone else—to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself?
Now is the time to draft the following documents:
- Living will, which specifies what your wishes are concerning medical treatment (or lack thereof);
- Health care surrogate designation, which names a particular person to be your health care surrogate and to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself; and
- Universal Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) form, which makes clear that you want to refuse treatment in certain circumstances.
- Do You Have Any Prior Contracts or Agreements in Place That Could Affect the Terms of Your Will or the Terms of a Trust?
Is there a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place that says a spouse will be entitled to certain property that you have left to someone else in your will? Did you enter into a prior business agreement with a partner that says certain assets will go to that person (or to the business more generally) in the event of your death, while you have made plans in your will to leave those assets to another party?
Even if these kinds of contracts or agreements are very old, they could resurface upon your death and result in significant complications for your family members and for the executor of your will.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer With Your Questions
It is important to be open and honest with your Tampa estate planning attorney to ensure that your wishes are met and that your family is provided for. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. for more information about estate planning in Florida.