An Estate Plan Is Beneficial For You And Your Family
It’s never too early to think about estate planning – and even if already have an estate plan in place, it’s important to update it every few years to reflect any updates in your finances and in your life. No estate is too large or small to make this planning worth the effort. A little bit of work today can save your loved ones a lot of pain and confusion in the future.
Every person who owns assets should have, at a minimum, a will. In general, when a Florida resident dies without a properly drafted will, his or her property will be transferred according to Florida intestacy laws. This means that the State of Florida may make decisions about your assets that you could have made yourself. It’s crucial to formally record your wishes in order for them to be carried out properly after you are gone.
In addition to a will, Florida residents should also consider putting in place additional estate planning documents for ease of administration of the applicable estate and in order to reduce the costs that may be involved in the probate process. Even with a will in place, the distribution of the assets may be subject to the probate process, which can waste time and money, and is subject to public recordkeeping. However, probate can sometimes be avoided with the use of a revocable living trust. Proper planning with a trust could enable an individual to avoid the probate process altogether, which will, in turn, save money as well as time upon the individual’s death.
A special needs trust can also be used to provide for the care and financial well-being of a child or an adult family member with special needs.
When You Should Review Your Existing Estate Plan
Many people think that estate planning is a one-shot deal. They implement a plan and then lock it away for years and years. In reality, your life is constantly changing, and it is critical that your estate plan change along with it. Your estate planning documents should be reviewed by you and an attorney regularly to ensure that they are still aligned with your goals. There are numerous events that could change your estate planning needs.
Many clients are surprised at the number of changes that can occur in a relatively short period of time and have an effect on existing wills. If you have not reviewed your estate planning documents recently, it may be a good idea to make an appointment to do so.
Some reasons to consider reviewing and/or revising your estate planning documents include:
- Marriage, remarriage or divorce
- Death of a spouse
- Big change in total asset value
- Death or incapacity of an executor, guardian or trustee
- Relocation to another state
- Purchase of real estate outside of Florida
- Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
- Serious illness of a family member
- Purchase or sale of a business
- Marriage or divorce of any beneficiary
- Beneficiary develops a drug, alcohol, or gambling problem
- Beneficiary becomes financially irresponsible
- Beneficiary begins a career with increased risk of law suits (lawyer, doctor, etc.)
- Changes in tax laws
- Three or more years have passed since your last estate plan review with an attorney
Learn More About How We Can Help With Your Estate Plan
At Wolf Elder Law, we don’t just file the paperwork – we help you consider the full range of important questions regarding your estate and your wishes, in order to create thorough estate planning documents that will give you the peace of mind that only comes with knowing that all of your affairs are in order.