How to Write a Florida Estate Plan if You Have Minor Children?
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How to Write a Florida Estate Plan if You Have Minor Children?

What are specific considerations for creating a Will with minor children? How do I avoid disinheriting my children? This article addresses important considerations for creating an Estate Plan in Florida with minor children! Scroll to learn more!

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Writing a Will as a parent of minor children is an essential step in ensuring the well-being and financial security of your children in the event of your untimely death. Although spouses are covered by Florida estate law,  the situation for minor children is more complicated. This is especially true when there are blended families, where the spouses have children from prior relationships. To avoid disinheriting these children, parents should be aware of Florida law. Here are some important considerations when you are making a Florida estate plan.

Estate Planning for Minor Children in Florida

When you have children under age 18, the most critical task in estate planning is to figure out who will act as a guardian in the event that both you and the child's other parent are deceased. A legal guardian is the person who will care for your children if you pass away. Choose someone who is willing and capable of providing a stable and loving environment for your children. It's advisable to have a conversation with the potential guardian to ensure they are comfortable with the responsibility.

In Florida, you can file a Declaration of Preneed Guardian with the court naming a legal guardian. The purpose of this form is to inform the court that in the event that your child's last surviving child dies or is incapacitated, there is a specific person who should immediately assume custody of your child. 

The Declaration of Preneed Guardian should also name an alternate guardian just in case the first person you name can't serve. So, for example, if you and your spouse die in a car accident, the court will immediately appoint the person you named in the Declaration of Preneed form. If you do not file this form and then a tragedy happens, any family member can petition the court to take custody of your child, and the court will ultimately decide who is fit to serve in this capacity. When you already have a Declaration of Preneed Guardian on file, that person will be the court's preferred choice.

If you want to ensure your child has specific money set aside for their care, you have many options, including life insurance and specific bequests. Life insurance policies can provide for them financially if you're no longer there to provide for them. You can also make specific bequests in your Will. Clearly state your intentions regarding specific bequests or gifts to your children, such as personal belongings, family heirlooms, or sentimental items.

Estate Planning for Blended Families in Florida 

Blended families are common in Florida, and they present unique challenges in estate planning. A blended family consists of parents and all children they have from current and prior relationships. This may include step-parents, half-siblings, and step-children. Despite the commonality of blended families, Florida law is not up to date on these arrangements and the laws can sometimes impact children unfairly. 

For example, let's say a married couple has one child of their own and two from prior relationships. Florida law dictates that all of the couple's assets are jointly owned. If one spouse dies, the property will transfer to the surviving spouse. However, when the surviving spouse dies, only their blood relatives can inherit if there is no Will. That means that when the second spouse passes away, his or her step-children will not be able to inherit in the absence of a Florida Will. 

The only way to avoid this unfairness is by having a valid Florida Will that names the children as heirs who are entitled to a share of the person's assets. If you want to make sure all of your children get an inheritance, you'll need to write a Will. This can be done in minutes by using FastWill.

Estate Planning for Single Parents in Florida

When a couple is married, and one of them passes away, the other parent becomes the sole guardian of minor children. For single parents, things are not quite as simple. If a single parent dies, the other parent will usually get custody of the child. For some people, this is their preferred arrangement. But for other parents, this is concerning. For example, some people are single parents by choice, and there is no other parent. Other single parents might have difficulty co-parenting with their child's other parent, or the other parent might not be involved in the child's upbringing. Generally, in Florida, the child's biological parent has a right to take custody of the child, even if one parent names another person as the child's guardian in a Will.

What can be done about this situation?

A single parent can establish a trust where they leave their child's inheritance to a trustee who will manage it until the child turns 18 or reaches another age that you select. This keeps the inheritance out of the hands of the child's other parent, and the trustee will ensure the child's welfare. You do not need to pick your child's other parent to be the trustee. You can pick a trusted friend or family member to serve in that role. This can give you peace of mind if your child's other parent is not involved in their life or has a history of being irresponsible. You can contact a lawyer to set up a trust or use FastWill to create the trust documents. If you choose a trust, you must be sure to transfer assets into the trust so that it is funded.

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