10 Estate Planning Tips to Start the New Year Off Right

10 Estate Planning Tips to Start the New Year Off Right

Have you found that the New Year is a good time to reflect on your life and make plans for the future? In part of your reflection and making plans for the future, have you included your Florida estate planning?  We understand that it may not be the first thing you think about, but it is certainly critical for being sure that in the future your wishes are honored, and your loved ones are taken care of.  We have 10 estate planning tips to start the New Year off right that we would like to share with you for effective Florida estate planning. 

  1. Pull out your Florida last will and testament or trust agreement and review it. Since you last reviewed your documents have there been changes in your life? Have there been marriages, divorces, births, and deaths? All these changes can impact your Florida estate plan. So, as you review your documents, be sure they reflect your current wishes and family situation.
  2. Do you only have a Florida last will and testament? You might consider adding a trust agreement. Why? A trust agreement, whether irrevocable or revocable, can add greater planning opportunities for you as you aspire to reach your goals of establishing a legacy for you and the next generation. Your experienced Florida estate planning attorney will be able to inform you on how trust agreements can benefit your existing Florida estate plan. 
  3. Review all your beneficiary designations to be sure they are updated. Review your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial products which have beneficiary designations. Again, if there have been any life changes, you may need to update these designations to make sure they align with your current intentions.
  4. Review all your life insurance policies in order to update them. It is important to review your life insurance policies regularly to be sure they are in line with your current Florida estate planning goals. Whenever your life circumstances and financial situation change, so should your life insurance coverage.
  5. Do you own your own business? Then you need to be sure to have a plan for business succession. In fact, did you know that if you own your own business, you should include succession planning in your Florida estate plan? You need to decide who will take over the management of your business should something happen to you. You should also work with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to outline the process in your Florida estate plan to ensure a smooth transition should something happen.
  6. If you have digital assets, they should be a part of your estate plan. Because we are in the digital age, it is important to include digital assets like social media accounts, online banking, and digital files in your Florida estate plan. You need to start by taking an inventory of all your digital assets and then making a list of those assets. Again, work with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to include instructions on how they should be handled.
  7. An annual review of estate tax laws is a must. Be mindful that estate tax laws can change, and it is crucial that you stay informed. Review your Florida estate plan in light of current tax laws and be sure to consult with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to understand how these laws could affect your Florida estate plan.
  8. Be sure to keep your important documents secured. Your Florida estate planning documents should be stored securely in a safe place. Your documents should also be accessible to the right people when needed. We recommend that you let your decision makers or family members of your choosing know where these documents are kept.
  9. Do you currently have a power of attorney and healthcare directives? Are they updated?  You should have a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive in place. Why? Because you will need these important documents in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. In addition, these documents should be reviewed annually to make sure they always represent your wishes.
  10. Have you thought about adding charitable giving to your estate? If philanthropy is important to you, then you should consider incorporating charitable giving into your Florida estate plan. With the assistance of your experienced Florida estate planning attorney, you could add specific bequests in your will, set up a charitable trust, or designate a charity as a beneficiary of a retirement account.

To review, Florida estate planning is a continuous process that requires regular updates. By following these ten proactive strategies for effective Florida estate planning, you can be sure that your estate plan is up-to-date and in line with your current wishes. We want you to start the New Year off right with the peace of mind that comes from having a comprehensive and up-to-date Florida estate plan.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.

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