Jacksonville Family Law And Estate Planning Blog

Why estate planning is important for all adults

Florida adults can benefit from an estate plan even if they do not have a large amount of assets. One important reason to have one is in the event of incapacity. Estate planning documents can appoint people to take over health care decisions and financial matters for a person who is unable to do so. People might also want to purchase some kind of long-term care insurance.

Without an estate plan, people also cannot indicate how their assets should be distributed after their death. Instead, the state will decide. A person should review any beneficiary designations to make sure they are up to date and consider a will or trust so family members will know their wishes.

Understanding the impact of the 'gray divorce revolution'

For any Florida couple, there's something special about celebrating the anniversary of a marriage that has lasted for many years. Long-term marriages can be even more remarkable for children of divorce. Sons of divorced parents are 35 percent more likely to get divorced themselves, while daughters coming from the same family background are 60 percent more likely to see their marriage end early. Even when there isn't a family history of divorce, older couples aren't all that likely to remain together "til death do use part" these days.

The divorce rate among the general population is declining. However, more older adults are untying the knot. In fact divorce rates among couples 50 and over have doubled since 1990, and those rates have tripled for seniors 65 and above. What's been termed the "gray divorce revolution" can have a big impact in many ways. In some cases, simply knowing couples who were "together forever" before splitting can cause friends or relatives to reevaluate their own marriages.

Can Valentine's Day weddings lead to divorce?

Couples in Florida who set their wedding dates may expect that to have little connection to their likelihood of divorce. On its face, that is a common-sense assertion. However, research conducted at the University of Melbourne shows that some couples are more likely to divorce, and that likelihood can be linked to the choice of certain dates for their weddings. The single day connected to the highest probability of divorce, according to the study, was Feb. 14, or Valentine's Day.

While the day is known for love and romance, around 11 percent of couples who married on the holiday were divorced five years later. Nine years later, 21 percent had chosen to end their marriages. The study examined the records of 1 million couples to determine their wedding dates and current marital status. Valentine's Day was not the only date linked with a higher probability of divorce. Couples who chose "special number days," like Dec. 12, 2012, were also more likely to divorce within a shorter period after the wedding.

Looking ahead to the school year after divorce

Divorced parents in Florida might want to think about how they will deal with the transition of a new school year. After a divorce, this can be a good time to think about changes ahead. However, it's important to remember that two separate households could complicate things for the children involved.

One question parents may want to consider is what they want their children to learn this year both in and out of school. Ideally, parents will sit down together and have this conversation. Even if this is not possible, a parent can still talk about the school year with the child and encourage the child to have a similar conversation with the other parent. Besides academic topics, parents and children can talk about healthy relationships, extracurricular activities and even college. Parents may want to discuss major challenges with the child and how they can help and assist the child in making a list of goals for the school year.

3 tips for dads paying child support

Dealing with child support can be a frustrating task. Making payments to your ex-spouse may be difficult, but it is important to remember that it is for the best interests of your child. If you get caught up in your emotions instead of following the child support order, you may find yourself in trouble.

Money matters may be stressful, but you can make it easier by following some guidelines. Here are some tips for making child support payments.

Financial issues to keep in mind in a divorce

People in Florida who are thinking about getting a divorce may be worried about the financial side of things. This includes assets, debts, taxes, support and more.

When dividing assets, people should consider factors such as whether taxes will reduce the value of an asset. If there is a pension plan, the divorce agreement should address whether the ex-spouse will get survivor's benefits. Splitting the home may be emotionally difficult, but it could also present practical difficulties. If the couple decides to sell the home, they may need to decide who will pay bills connected with the home until it is sold.

Addressing a child's immediate needs in an estate plan

While many Floridians are aware of the importance of long-term estate planning, some may also want to think about including special details in these documents that would cover more immediate concerns. An estate plan itself can be critical in order to reduce probate fees and delays, lower the estate tax burden and provide a sense of security for loved ones and beneficiaries. Making an estate plan does not need to be complex or costly, but it can save a significant amount of time, money and hardship in the long term.

Even people who already have their wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other key documents in order may want to consider additional documents to address immediate concerns. Parents with young children may be especially concerned about how their kids will be cared for in case of a sudden or unexpected death, even if their wills already provide for guardianship plans. While a will's language about guardianship is essential for making sure a long-term plan is approved by the court system, a child will need support in the immediate period after his or her parents pass away.

Choosing the right people for an estate plan

People in Florida who are planning for the future may want to pay close attention to the people that they name to carry out plans for their estate. By naming trusted people and close friends and family, people want to honor their connections with those they hold dear. However, it is important to consider competence and knowledge as well when choosing people to act for a person as part of an estate plan.

There are a number of roles that people may fill during the estate planning process. For example, when creating powers of attorney or advance healthcare directives, individuals can name agents to act for them in financial or medical decisions if they become incapacitated. Many people create trusts in order to more closely manage their assets after passing away. The trustee, named in the agreement, makes decisions about how the assets in the trust are managed and distributed. Trustees must have some familiarity with proper procedures in order to make good investment decisions and keep up with all of the legal responsibilities involved.

What can I spend my child support money on?

If you are a Florida parent receiving child support, you may be under the misconception that you must spend this money only for your children’s basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Such is not the case. Actually, you have pretty much free rein on how you use your child support money, as long as you spend it on child-related things.

The whole purpose of child support is to allow your children to maintain the style of living they had during your marriage to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, if your children, for instance, attended private schools during your marriage, you can spend your child support money on tuition, books, uniforms, activity fees, lunch money and anything else associated with those schools.

Tips for positive co-parenting strategies after divorce

After a divorce, it is important for Florida parents to develop a new co-parenting relationship. If both parents put the children's interests first, co-parenting can be much easier. The children, in many cases, don't fully understand the disputes between their parents; they love both of them and want to support them. Except in instances of neglect or abuse, it is important to support involvement with the child's other parent.

It is also best if both parents can agree on the rules and main principles of child-raising after separating. When children move back and forth between two homes with radically different parenting styles, it can be confusing and alienating. While there may be specific differences from home to home, general expectations should be shared in common to provide children with a healthy, supportive environment.

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Rachel Rall, Attorney at Law, P.A.
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Suite 101
Jacksonville, FL 32210

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