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Protecting yourself, your assets, and your beneficiaries from the risks inherent to life is a critical first step to creating a vibrant financial picture. We break this stage into three important areas where we can plan ahead to manage risk.
Under Florida law, certain assets must go through probate court proceedings after an individual’s death. This is done to keep all of the deceased person’s assets in order, pay any outstanding debts or taxes, and ensure that any property is transferred legally to beneficiaries. While everyone seems to dread the term “probate,” the biggest issue with the process is that it can simply take a long time for heirs and beneficiaries to receive the assets bequeathed to them. Not to mention, the court process can be stressful and complicated. However, there are ways that this process can be avoided, and that is through trusts and the designation of beneficiaries.
Joint Tenants - Property owned jointly by the deceased and someone else is passed directly to the surviving owner under a law called the right of survivorship. This is often the case with the family home or joint bank account of a couple where one spouse passes.
Beneficiary-designated accounts - In Florida, residents can add a payable-on-death designation to checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, certificates of deposit, and life insurance policies. As long as the deceased person has designated a beneficiary, the money in the account may be transferred to the named person without probate.
Revocable Living Trusts - In Florida, assets held in a living trust may pass to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings. These trusts must be created before your death, and all assets—including real estate, antiques, vehicles, and so on—must be transferred into the trust under the terms of the trust document. You'll remain the trustee until your death, at which time your named successor will be in control of the assets in the trust.
Enhanced Life Estate Deeds - Florida is one of the few states that allow enhanced life estate deeds, often called "Lady Bird deeds." These deeds allow you to preserve your eligibility for Medicaid during your lifetime without putting your assets in jeopardy. After you pass, the property named in a Lady Bird deed passes automatically to your designated beneficiaries without probate—meaning that assets cannot be taken by the state to recoup any Medicaid benefits used by you during your lifetime.
It’s hard to anticipate the need for long-term care. How do you know if and when you will become seriously ill or need nursing home care if you are healthy now? But the fact is that the need for ongoing care can rise up unexpectedly and catch us off-guard if we aren’t prepared, and protecting your assets from being depleted when this happens is the number one area of concern. By planning ahead, using one or both of the methods listed below, you can protect your assets and still get the care you may need.
It’s safe to say that when someone mentions the word retirement in a crowded room, at least half the people start thinking about outliving their retirement savings. Americans are now living well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond, and the possibility of living long beyond what you’ve put aside for retirement is more real than ever. But how can you do retirement any differently?
Annuities are often used to help retirees manage their money. A fixed annuity is an insurance and investment product in one, sold by insurance companies. When you purchase an annuity, you enter into a contract with the company and make single or multiple payments.
Your money usually earns interest and is tax-deferred until paid out at the end of the term. Payouts are usually either lump-sum or in a series, depending on the type of annuity purchased. We use fixed annuities for our clients because they provide a guaranteed rate of return for a set number of years.