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Aventura Corporate Center
20801 Biscayne Boulevard
Suite 400
Miami, FL 33180

305-932-2293 Miami-Dade County
954-760-7077 Broward County

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Time to face estate planning

We all know how important estate planning is, but we put it off because of the discomfort it causes. That's the pain of making difficult end-of-life decisions, or recognizing our own mortality.

But it is something residents of Miami and the rest of the U.S. must face. Once they make an appointment to see a professional who can help with the estate plan, they should begin to think about how they will answer these five basic questions:

  1. Who would raise minor children should both parents pass away? If parents do not specify a guardian, a court will do it. What the judge determines is best for the children might not agree with what you would want for the kids. Parents must put their decision in writing.
  2. What would happen if the whole immediate family died in an accident or disaster? While unlikely, it does happen. People often will leave their estates to their parents, their siblings or even to a charity.
  3. Are there any descendants or important people that have not been admitted to, or accounted for? If a man has had a secret child with another woman outside his marriage, for example, it is best for that man to confront the issue with his wife and others. The emotional and perhaps the financial cost could be great if that child appears after the man's death to try to claim a piece of the pie. The same holds true for secret relationships that have been kept from a spouse. That paramour could turn up after a person's death and claim to be a common-law husband, for instance.
  4. Who should get custody of the pets? A person or organization to care for a deceased person's animals should be named. Additionally, funds can be set aside to pay for the animal's medical costs and care.
  5. At what time should a health-care advocate decide not to continue life-sustaining methods? Deciding when to pull the plug or discontinue nutrition is among the hardest decisions to make in estate planning.

Source: Forbes, "12 Estate Planning Questions That Might Make You Squirm," Wendy S. Goffe, July 24, 2012

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