Articles Posted in Single parent

When Packing for Back to College, Don’t Forget Your Estate Plan! 

With Back to College season in full swing, students are getting their last-minute packing in—shower shoes, mattress toppers, textbooks. . . the list goes on. But is there something missing from this packing list? According to estate planning attorneys and professionals, yes! Estate planning might seem like only a necessary precaution for older individuals, but this is far from the truth. Everyone can benefit from a well-crafted estate plan. This is especially true during major life events, such as graduating high school and beginning secondary education.

Will. To begin, you might want to consider a will—depending on your circumstances. In the extremely unfortunate event that you were to die, a will would protect your interests in passing your assets to whose whom you want to have them. While there are default rules of succession when you die without a will, it is best practice to avoid dying intestate (i.e., without a will) because these default rules may not accurately reflect your true wishes. Accordingly, a will is suggested—even as young as 18 years old—to provide peace of mind that your wishes will be honored and your loved ones will not have additional worries if you were to pass away at a young age.

Estate planning 101 from the late Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

            Tony Hsieh was the CEO of Zappos for over twenty years before retiring and taking up a series of different business ventures. Zappos is an online retailer that deals specifically with shoes and clothing on an international sale. Hsieh was an early investor, and then CEO, for this online clothing empire. On November 27, 2020, Tony Hsieh succumbed to his injuries resulting from a house fire at his residence, leaving behind assets worth over $700,000,000. Quite a large sum.

Like many celebrities who have passed away with large estates, including Aretha Franklin and Prince, Hsieh did not leave an estate plan in the unfortunate eventuality of his death.  Having no plan in place governing his wishes, Mr. Hsieh’s family is now left in the unenviable position of having to deal with the administration of Mr. Hsieh’s estate and the claims of many individuals seeking a potion of same.  At least ten individuals have submitted claims for a portion of Mr. Hsieh’s estate, seeking more than $130,000,000. Many of these claims concern different specific devises listed on thousands of yellow Post-It notes. Some Post-It notes are about particular items such as artwork and furniture, while others concern ownership interests in Mr. Hsieh’s business ventures.

How can a single parent avoid homestead to protect a minor child?

            Florida homestead laws are complex, confusing, and enormously important for homeowners with or without an estate plan. Florida homestead law applies to three categories: (1) creditor protection against reaching a primary residence, (2) property tax exemptions and limitations on annual property value increases, and (3) restrictions on how a homeowner may devise property if there is a surviving spouse or a minor child.

Under this third category, Article X, Section 4(c) of the Florida Constitution states that a homestead property cannot be devised if the owner is survived by a spouse or minor child, except to the spouse if there is no minor child. This section only pertains to devises, or post-death transfers of property. A homeowner is free to mortgage, gift, sell, or deed the property freely while the homeowner is still living. If the homestead is jointly owned by both spouses, then the property can be freely transferred as long as both spouses join on the conveyance.

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