Proper Estate Planning
An estate plan is probably not high on your list of ways you can show your love. However, when you die without an estate plan or your estate plan is poorly designed, you leave a mess for your loved ones to clean up. Without an estate plan, the time and cost involved in finalizing your affairs are greater.
Without an estate plan, you also tie up your assets in probate. Your loved ones may not have the financial support they need immediately after your death without an estate plan. Finally, a comprehensive estate plan protects your assets during your lifetime and plans for a sudden illness or incapacitation.
You can show your love by creating an estate plan. If you have not reviewed your estate plan recently, you may want to do so to ensure your family is protected.
Simple Steps for Creating an Estate Plan
An estate plan can be simple or complex, depending on your needs and goals. However, there are certain steps that most individuals should take when planning their estate.
- Create a Will
A will allows you to choose your heirs and distribute your property to those heirs. Without a will, Florida’s intestate laws decide who receives your property and how the property is divided. Friends and charities are not considered heirs under intestate laws.
- Designate Beneficiaries
Some assets pass directly to heirs outside of the probate court. Life insurance, retirement plans, annuities, and other financial accounts can transfer directly to a beneficiary. If you do not assign a beneficiary, your estate receives these assets, and they are distributed according to the terms in your will or Florida’s intestate laws.
- Consider a Trust Agreement
Trusts are extremely useful for estate planning. You can avoid probate and decrease estate taxes by using trusts. A trust can provide for the care of a minor child or an adult with special needs. You can also place assets in a trust to protect them from your creditors and your heirs’ creditors.
- Appoint a Financial Power of Attorney
If you become incapacitated for any reason, you need to have an agent to manage your financial affairs. Without a power of attorney, the court will appoint a conservator to make decisions for you. This person may or may not be the person you trust making financial decisions on your behalf.
- Make Health Care Directives
You also want to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. There are several options for creating health care directives, including making provisions for end-of-life medical decisions.
- Appoint a Guardian for Your Children
You need to consider who you want to raise your children if you and your child’s other parent were to pass away or become incapacitated. By appointing a guardian, you control who raises your child instead of a judge.
- Protect Your Business
If you own a business, you also want to include a business succession plan in your estate plan. Depending on your situation, you may direct that the business is sold or that the business is transferred to a specific person.
For More Information About Estate Planning Contact the Florida Women’s Law Group
The above list is not a comprehensive list of the matters you may want or need to address with an estate plan. Estate plans are unique and tailored to your specific goals and needs.
Florida Women’s Law Group
4312 Pablo Professional Court
Jacksonville, FL 32224
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