Thinking about how you want your property and assets distributed upon your passing is an important step toward looking after your family and loved ones. It is also important to periodically check up on the plans you have set in place.
As another year comes to a close, it is important to take a moment and look over your various legal and financial documents to make sure you still agree with what is in writing. If not, update as necessary.
Specifically, a Will (and/or Living Trust) is the primary means of ensuring your last wishes are followed upon your passing, and it typically determines not only what happens to your assets and how property is distributed, but it also outlines what happens to your children, pets, and even your debts.
Here are some questions that can help you make sure your will is up-to-date:
- Do you still wish to have your estate distributed as you had previously decided in your last will?
- Do you want to keep the same Personal Representative (a/k/a, Executor)? Trustees? Beneficiaries? Perhaps there is a new charity or religious group with which you have become involved—do you want to include them in your will?
- Has the worth of your assets changed? It might make sense to take another look at your property and other assets, especially as we emerge from a recessionary economic climate.
- If you had designated a process for minor children, are those children still considered minors? Are you happy with the arrangement you previously or initially determined?
- If you designated someone to be your agent/attorney-in-fact in your power of attorney, do you still want this person to have it?
- If you have a living will, do your wishes for emergency health care decisions still stand?
- If you have designated someone to be your health care surrogate, do you still want this person to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated?
- Does it make sense to look into a living trust if you do not already have one?
Also, think about recent changes in your life and how they might affect your estate planning. For example, if you have recently added a furry creature to your family, you might want to add “Rover” to your will or trust. Or, if your family needs special consideration (such as children from a different marriage or a child with special needs), be sure to discuss with your attorney aspects concerning homestead, elective share, and special needs trusts.
Last, be sure to tell someone about the plans you have in place and where your documents are located, if not in your attorney’s vault. Further, make sure that your heirs have contact information for those in possession of your documents and other valuables. Estate planning can often be a collaborative affair and you will want to make sure your loved ones know where you store these very important legal documents.
FLORIDA ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, GUARDIANSHIP, & ELDER LAW IS COMPLEX AND CANNOT BE COVERED COMPLETELY IN AN ARTICLE. WHENEVER A SPECIFIC QUESTION OR PROBLEM ARISES, YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT MY OFFICE TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION: (941) 256-3965.