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Minimalism- Declutter Your To-Do List By Preparing Your Estate Plan

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For the past few years, there has a been a big movement of people looking into minimalist living. Minimalism isn't just something people 'do', its a way of life, and as such there are certain habits of minimalist living you can adopt in order to live a simpler less cluttered happier life. 

As one might assume, with minimalism you declutter your life, you make mindful purchases, keep surfaces clean, create systems and processes and be grateful for what you have.

If you are ready to start a minimalist lifetyle but not yet ready to live in a room with only a bed, a lamp, a desk with a laptop, and maybe 5 shirts in your closet and 3 toiletry items, then preparing your estate planning documents is the first step to a minimalist lifestyle.

One way to help declutter your life and mind, would be to prepare your estate planning documents. A number of people say that worrying about what will happen to their family if they pass away, keeps them up at night. 

People always say,  "I have been thinking about preparing my estate planning documents, but you know, life just gets in the way." The thought comes and goes quickly. Unfortunately, people do not take action until there is some tragedy that strikes close to home. Typically a family member or friend suddenly passes away and they see the consequences of not having an estate plan in place prior to their passing.

Preparing your estate plan will allow you to put down in writing your wishes with respect to who will or will not receive from your estate when you pass away. You can state who will be the guardian of your minor children (which will hopefully avoid family fighting). You can make sure the money held in trust for your minor children is protected from their creditors and distributed to your children over a period of time. You can also state who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated and are unable to act on your own behalf.

 

“I have been thinking about preparing my estate planning documents, but you know, life just gets in the way.”

A few estate planning documents everyone should consider preparing:

Durable Power of Attorney: Name someone to manage your financial affairs either immediately or in the future should you become unable to do so yourself.

Healthcare Surrogate: Name someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Living Will: You will state how and if you want to prolong your life if you fall into a vegetative state.

Last Will and Testament: State your final wishes for who will or will not receive from your estate, name a guardian for your minor children and state directions regarding organ donation and burial.

Revocable Trust: More in depth document that will state your final wishes and allow you to place stipulations and retain control of your assets during your lifetime as well as controlling from the grave.  

To be able to cross items of your to-do list and clear your mind, can help you on the road to living a minimalist lifestyle. If you realize minimalism is not your cup of tea, at least you have an estate plan in place and have gained some peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone.

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County contact an experienced estate planning  and probate attorney at The Hershey Law Firm in Plantation, Florida at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

Remember: You Can't Predict The Future But You Can Plan For It!

 

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2019: The Year of The Estate Plan and Peace Of Mind

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It is January 2019! Another year in the books with a new year on the horizon.

We all like to start of the new year on a positive note and say all the things we are going to do differently than last year. We like to think about all the things we want to accomplish. We hope to set attainable goals, spend more time with family, take more trips and simply just live in the moment.

Sadly most New Year’s resolutions don't go past the first phase which is saying them out loud. Often times life gets in the way or you just simply get lazy and continue on the same path as last year.

One New Year’s resolution to make and follow through with would be preparing your estate planning documents. This will not only benefit you and bring you peace of mind, but will also benefit your loved ones.

Just keep in mind, it is less expensive to die with an estate plan then to die without one.

Everyone has an 'estate' regardless of its value. An estate consists of all your assets--home, investment property, business, bank accounts, investments, pensions, life insurance, personal possessions, household items, digital assets, etc.

If you are able to now, why not decide who will make decisions for you while you are incapacitated, who will (or will not) receive from your estate when you pass away, who will be the guardian of your minor children, who will be in charge of handling your estate, preserve the assets you have and avoid probate?

 Make 2019 the year of preparing your estate planning documents. If you already have an estate plan (good job!), make sure you review your current plan. Update beneficiary designations (if needed) and possibly look into getting life insurance.

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County contact an experienced estate-planning and probate attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

Remember: You Can’t Predict The Future, But You Can Plan For It!



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HAPPY 4TH ANNIVERSARY!

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Some people wake up every year on July 11 and think to themselves FREE SLURPEE DAY at 7-Eleven.  OK, I admit it. I am one of those people. But immediately after that thought, I begin to appreciate this day for what it really is. Four years ago today The Hershey Law Firm came to life!

The thought of leaving an established law firm to open my own practice was definitely a nail biting decision, but the BEST decision ever. The fear of the unknown should never stop anyone from pursuing their dreams.

Looking back at all the families and colleagues I have had the pleasure to work with and get to know over the years brings me so much joy. 

If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen

Thank you to everyone who has placed their trust in the firm to handle their estate planning needs. We would not be here without you. You are truly appreciated. 

If you have not had a chance to work with the firm, what are you waiting for? Get your estate planning documents in place today and truly experience 'peace of mind'  knowing your family will be taken care of when you are gone.

Four years down, many many more to go

Remember: You can't predict the future, but you can plan for it! 

 

 

 

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WHY PLAN FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE?

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People typically don't prepare for much.  They have this attitude of'I'll just wing it'. However, when there is an imminent threat, all those laid back people turn into the ultimate preppers.

Fear placed inside of someone truly fuels the fire and gets the person up and in motion. With the recent passing of Hurricane Irma, everyone's life has been turned upside down for almost two weeks now.

With the unpredictability of Hurrican Irma's path, it was advised that PLANNING was the only way to get through this historical beast of a storm.  We had the news stations airing 24/7 hurricane coverage for nearly a week- that has to say something.

Once the news made it clear we were in the path of destruction, it was every man for himself to get prepared! Long lines at gas stations to fill up gas tanks for cars and generators. Long lines at the grocery store to stock up on non-perishable items (especially water and as much junk food as they can fit in their shopping cart) Long lines to pick up plywood, batteries, fans, etc.

Thankfully at the last minute, Hurricane Irma changed it's path and our city was not directly hit. However our fortune was some other town's misfortune. Sadly, that's how life tends to work out.

Although you cannot determine the exact path and overall impact of a hurricane, the fact of the matter is, that if you failed to prepare for the storm and the aftermath you would be in much worse shape once all is said and done.

Estate planning is the way we plan for the future that is unpredictable just like that of a hurricane.  Fortunately and unfortunately, we as humans are the only animals that know we are going to die, yet we do not know when or how it will happen.

We do not have a tracker that holds the potential future paths our lives might take. Therefore, you do not know if and when (or if at all) you will become incapacitated. You do not know if your 'adult children' who just went away to college will act recklessly and need their parents to step in and help them out.  (A parent can not make legal decisions for a child that is over 18, because at that time they are an adult in the eyes of the law).

Estate planning allows you to prepare for the unpredictability of what we call life. It is not fun to think about, but it is a reality. Preparing for your incapacity and passing not only will bring you peace of mind, but it will also make things easier on your loved ones who survive you and have to handle your affairs when you are gone.

Through effective estate planning, you have the ability to name who will make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.  You have the ability of naming who will or will not receive from your estate once you pass away.  Have no fear-if you chose to do nothing, the State of Florida will 'plan' for you.  There is a good chance that the State of Florida's plan will not be what you would have wished for yourself and your loved ones.

Start your estate planning today so you can have peace of mind that your wishes are known for the future.

Call The Hershey Law Firm at (954) 303-9468 today for your free consultation to learn more about being prepared for your future.

Remember: You Can't Predict The Future But You Can Plan For It.

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HAPPY 3RD FIRMAVERSARY!

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you...

Don't ever let the fear of the unknown cause you not to follow your dreams.  If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen! Make your own path and let others follow in your foot steps. 

Three years ago today I took a gigantic step outside of my comfort zone and left my role as a partner at a firm in Miami. I decided to go a bit crazy and build my own law firm from the ground up. 

Although it can be demanding practicing law and running a business I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I wake up everyday truly thankful for all that I have accomplished and all that I plan on accomplishing in the future. Big things are yet to come!
 

If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen!

Thank you to all my family and friends for joining me in this amazing journey, believing in me and supporting me. For everyone who has trusted me with taking care of their families and referring me to their family and  friends I am forever grateful to all of you

I love what I do and I hope those around me can see that.  

If you haven't begun planning for the future, now is the time!
 

Remember: You Can't Predict The Future But You Can Plan For It.

 

 

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STEP RIGHT UP--FORM A STRAIGHT LINE--NO SKIPPING

Estate planning simply allows you to decide who will or will not receive from your estate when you are gone. Of course there are more complex issues surrounding estate planning, but for this moment, we are just going to focus on this one issue; beneficiaries.

A beneficiary is any person who gains an advantage and/or profits from something. You can be the beneficiary of someone's kindness, the beneficiary of a good education, or even the beneficiary of your own hard work.  When it comes to estate planning, you can be the beneficiary of an estate plan and receive money passed down from a loved one.

There is no black and white rule that says you must make your family members your beneficiaries of your will. Yes it is true, you cannot entirely disinherit a spouse, but if you were planning to do that, why are you even married to that person?

If your children did not treat you right while you were alive, why hand them a stack of cash that you worked so hard to receive and allow them to enjoy the fruits of your labor when you are gone?

If you fail to plan or if your plan is invalid because you thought you would save a few dollars by drafting your own documents, you will pass away 'intestate' and the state will decide who will receive from your estate based on Florida Statutes.

With proper estate planning, you can name specific beneficiaries to receive from your estate. If you want to leave everything to charity, go for it. If you want to leave $1.00 to your brother to annoy him from your grave, go for it. If you want to treat your children differently and give them different amounts, go for it.

Be sure to be specific when drafting your estate planning documents to avoid challenges to your will. Challenges to wills by distant relatives are so common that lawyers have a nickname for those people: "laughing heirs"- as in they will be laughing all the way to the bank if their challenge succeeds. People tend to come out of the woodworks and believe that they're closer than they are and should have some claim.  

There is no need to worry about a guilt trip when you are gone. Remember, you are GONE. Do not worry about how you will make a family member feel when they realize they are not a named beneficiary in your estate plan.  Be selfish, do what you feel is right inside, not what you think others would expect of you.

To avoid challenges to your will and make sure the right beneficiaries receive from your estate, you will need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach county contact an experienced estate planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm at (954) 303-9468, to discuss your estate planning needs.

You Can't Predict The Future But You Can Plan For It.

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WHEN THE SUNSHINE FADES, WHO WILL REMAIN?

When you are healthy you feel invincible, independent and less likely to feel sympathy for those that are ill. When you are healthy you go about your daily life; you work out, see your friends and family, enjoy the beautiful weather and ultimately just live.  

However when you become ill, life stops and you begin to view life through a different lens. Everything and everyone continues to move around you at their regular pace, and you are left by yourself to deal with your own misery. You might have some friends and family 'check in' on you, but the reality is, you are left to deal with the pain and the slow process of getting better all by yourself. 

It is not that your friends and family don't care about you, it's just that as humans, it is hard to put your life on hold to care for another when you yourself are healthy and have things you wish to do. Caring for another is somewhat a subconscious inconvenience. 

What if it is not simply a common cold, but something more severe where you require assistance from others on a more permanent basis. For instance, you are incapable of 2 daily acts of living and require the help of a caregiver. Or worse, you have become mentally incompetent to care for yourself. 

Don't assume that your spouse, your parents, or siblings will fill this role of caretaker for you (although you hope they would)  The reality is, just because life has stopped for you because of your illness, if they are healthy and able bodied they still have their own life to live and worry about.

This is why it is so important to make sure you have your Advanced Directives in place while you are healthy and able to make the decision for yourself. That includes your Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate and Living Will. You can even go so far as taking the burden away from your loved ones, by having a Long Term Care Insurance policy.

Love me when I am healthy, but love me more when I am ill. Those that remain when the sunshine fades are the ones I want in my world

Durable Power of Attorney: Name someone to manage your financial affairs either immediately or in the future should you become unable to do so yourself. 

Healthcare Surrogate: Name someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Living Will: Document that will state how and if you want to prolong your life if you fall into a vegetative state

Long Term Care Insurance: Long-term care is care that you need if you can no longer perform everyday tasks (activities of daily living) by yourself due to chronic illness, injury or the aging process.  Long-term care is not only for the elderly. A large percentage of people receiving long-term care are under the age of 65.

Caring for another is somewhat a subconscious inconvenience 

You need to have an open discussion with whomever you wish to fill those roles and make sure they want to take on that responsibility for you. 


If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach contact an experienced estate-planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

REMEMBER: You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it.
 

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I WISH I COULD RECORD MY DREAMS AND WATCH THEM LATER

 

Do you ever wake up in the morning and you can vividly remember the details of a crazy dream you just woke up from? Then you get out of bed, start your day, drive to work, and make a few phone calls. By the time you get to work and want to tell your best friend about your dream, you realize you can't remember what the dream was even about. 

The dream obviously had some meaning to you, but without it being written down, it just slipped through your fingers and *poof* no longer exists.

You may not be able to record your dreams and watch them later, but you can record your wishes and your loved ones can watch them fall into place when you are gone.
 

People always say that they are 'thinking' about the perfect estate plan. They have it written in their head but it's not quit ready to be written down on paper.  They feel that once they have  come up with the perfect plan, they will write it down. Until then, ehh, it can wait for a rainy day.

Don't delay- start today. You may have forgotten what you want to happen.

What should an estate plan consist of in South Florida?

Last Will & Testament: State your final wishes regarding who will receive or who will not receive from your estate, name guardians for your minor children, state directions regarding organ donation and burial.

Revocable Trust (Living Trust): In depth document that will state your final wishes. You are able to place stipulations and retain control of your assets during your lifetime. 

Durable Power of Attorney: Name someone to manage your financial affairs either immediately or in the future should you become unable to do so yourself. 

Healthcare Surrogate: Name someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Living Will: Document that will state how and if you want to prolong your life if you fall into a vegetative state

REMEMBER:  Your estate plan will never be perfect. Stop using the excuse that you will start planning once you know exactly how you want it written. There are so many moving parts in your life, that your estate plan will be consistently changing.

However, if nothing is written down, your wishes will not be known to your loved ones.

You may not be able to record your dreams and watch them later, but you can record your wishes and your loved ones can watch them fall into place when you are gone.  

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties it is time to start discussing with loved ones their estate planning needs. You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it.

Contact an experienced estate-planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Plantation, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

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HOORAY! HAPPY 2ND ANNIVERSARY

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It is one thing to say you have a dream. It is another thing to see your dream come to life. All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.

One of my biggest dreams came to life TWO years ago today when I took a leap of faith and turned my dream into a reality by opening The Hershey Law Firm.

To be able to remove myself from my comfort zone and step into the unknown was probably the most terrifying yet exhilarating experience of my life. You don't truly feel alive until you get that initial rush of adrenaline through your system.

Looking back on the past TWO years I can not believe everything I have accomplished. How I built something from nothing. How I have been able to help so many families along the way.
 

The relationships I have formed with not only my colleagues but also my clients have turned into truly amazing and lasting friendships.


Like they say in the movies...."If you build it, they will come" BEST. DECISION. EVER

Thank you to all my family and friends for believing in me and supporting me. For everyone who has trusted me with taking care of their families and referring me to their family and friends. I am forever grateful to you all. 

I am looking forward to year THREE. Lots of big things are on the horizon. Can't wait to share it with everyone.

If you haven't begun planning for the future, now is the time!

Just remember:  If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen!
 

One of my biggest dreams came to life TWO years ago today when I took a leap of faith and turned my dream into reality by opening The Hershey Law Firm.

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Who Is Going to Pay My Bills?

Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills? Do you pay my automobile bills? If you did then maybe we could chill.

Okay, so maybe we are not concerned about a boyfriend taking advantage of us like Beyoncé. However, the question of who will pay your bills when you pass away is a valid question and one that is determined based on the solvency of your estate when you pass away.

If you die and your medical and credit card bills start piling up it is important to understand who will be responsible for paying off all of these debts and in what amounts. The answer will depend on whether the estate of the decedent is solvent or insolvent.

What is a Solvent Estate?

A solvent estate is one that has enough assets to pay off the decedent's bills. This essentially means, the value of all the decedent's individual assets exceeds the amount of bills owed. If the estate is determined to be solvent, then the Personal Representative of the decedent's estate will be responsible for paying all of the bills from the assets owned by the estate. So basically, if there is money to pay the bills, the bills will be paid.

Example:

If all of the decedent's individual assets equal $50,000 and the credit card and medical bills equal $25,000, then the decedent's estate is solvent and can be used by the Personal Representative to pay the bills in full and the remaining $25,000 will be paid to the beneficiaries named in the Last Will and Testament or Living Trust (if there are estate planning documents prepared). If no estate planning documents are in place, the decedent's heirs at law will receive based off Florida Statute.

Debt collectors are very creative and persuasive. Even if you are not responsible for the debt, they may use terms such as ‘moral responsibility’ and use guilt to make family members feel they have to pay debts.

What is an Insolvent Estate?

An insolvent estate is one that does not have enough assets to pay off the decedent's bills. So when you add up all the assets, the value of the decedent's individual assets is equal to or less than the amount of bills owed.  If the estate is insolvent, then the Personal Representative will need to prioritize payment of the bills as provided by Florida law.

Example:

If the decedent's individual assets equal $50,000 but the credit card and medical bills equal $100,000, then the deceased person's estate is insolvent by $50,000. The Personal Representative will need to look to Florida law to determine which creditors will get paid in full, which creditors will receive only a partial payment, and which creditors will get absolutely nothing.

There are different classes of creditors and depending on where that creditor ranks will depend on if they get paid in full, partial payment or no payment.

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For instance, medical bills incurred within 60 days of the decedent's date of death will get paid before a credit card company gets paid.  If there are not enoughassets to pay the credit card company, they will only receive a proportionate share and the remainder will have to be written off by the credit card company.

In an insolvent estate, the decedent's beneficiaries will end up getting nothing. The good news is, that they will not be responsible for paying the balance of the decedent's unpaid debts (unless a beneficiary was a co-signor or co-guarantor on the debt).  The creditors that were not paid in full will simply have to write off the bad debt.

Debt collectors are very creative and persuasive. Even if you are not responsible for the debt, they may use terms such as ‘moral responsibility’ and use guilt to make family members feel they have to pay debts.

BEWARE: Creditors always come before beneficiaries. That is why it is extremely important to protect your assets and start estate planning today!

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County contact an experienced estate-planning and probate attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

 

            You Can't Predict The Future But You Can Plan For It.

 

 

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A New Year's Resolution You Can Actually Follow Through With

We are now 4 days into 2016. You may or may not have already ditched your new years resolutions by now.  After all, just because the calendar presents a new year, it doesn't mean you are going to turn into a gym rat, run a marathon, or change your diet from regularly eating pizza and pasta to eating no carbs and drinking green smoothies.

There is one resolution you can make that does not require changing your daily routine; that is reviewing your estate plan! It is time to dust off your estate planning documents and make sure your plan accurately reflects your current wishes and goals.

If you live in South Florida and do not have any estate planning documents, it is time to prepare them! Estate planning documents, such as your will, trust, and power of attorney are living documents. They need to be reviewed and updated as the laws change and as your family and financial situations change.

There is one resolution you can make that does not require changing your daily routine; that is reviewing your estate plan!

Have there been any life changing events since the last time you reviewed or prepared your estate plan? If you can answer 'yes' to any of the following questions, then your estate plan should be reviewed:

* Did you get married or divorced?

* Did your spouse pass away or become incapacitated?

* Did you have or adopt any children?

* Did any of your beneficiaries marry, divorce, have children, pass away or become incapacitated, or encounter creditors or other financial problems?

* Did any of your designated fiduciaries pass away or become unfit to serve in their designated roles?

* Did you retire?

* Did your financial situation change?

* Did you buy or sell a home?

* Did you sell your business?

* Did you acquire new assets?

 

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach county contact an experienced estate-planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

You Can’t Predict The Future, But You Can Plan For It.

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Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.......Friends vs. Family

Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what. 

You work hard your entire life; why not pass your hard earned assets on to the ones you love and who you feel deserve it. You are not obligated to give your assets to any specific family member. You can give your assets to your friends. However, without proper planning there is a chance your estate could end up in the hands of family members you are not too fond of.

So how do you stop that from happening? You draft a well written Last Will & Testament or Trust that spells out exactly who you want to receive from your estate and who you do not want to receive from your estate.

Disinheriting someone can be a way to haunt a family member from beyond the grave, but there may be pragmatic reasons involved. So if you plan to leave someone out of a will, there is a blueprint for doing it.

Spouse and Minor Children

Under Florida law, you are not allowed to disinherit a spouse (unless there was a prenuptial agreement). The spouse will be entitled to an elective share of 30% of your estate.

You can not completely disinherit a minor child. Florida's Constitution contains homestead laws which prohibit the head of a family from leaving his or her residence to someone other then their surviving spouse or minor child if either is alive.

Adult Children

As children turn into adults, there are times when there is no longer a relationship anymore. If that is the case, parents don't feel comfortable passing their hard earned assets to their children.  In Florida, if a parent wants to disinherit an adult child, they need to clearly state their intentions in the will and state they don't want that child to receive. Simply by omitting that child from the will, is not enough.

Disinheriting someone can be a way to haunt a family member from beyond the grave, but there may be pragmatic reasons involved.

Parents

Parents are not entitled to anything in your will. But if you die without a spouse or children, your estate will go to your closest relatives who are your parents. So if you want to deliberately disinherit a parent, you need to write it in the will and designate a different heir.

Extended Relatives

In Florida, there is no legal obligation to leave assets to siblings, aunts and uncles, or cousins. But if you die without a spouse, children or parents, your next closest relatives would inherit your estate.

Just remember, estate planning requires asking yourself 'WHAT IF". It is so important to determine who you want and who you don't want to receive from your estate and the possible scenarios that occur when you pass away. 

If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach county contact an experienced estate-planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.

You Can’t Predict The Future, But You Can Plan For It.


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