We do certain things on a routine basis: change the oil in the car, get an annual physical, and perform seasonal maintenance on our homes or boats. Our estate planning documents need an occasional peek under the hood also. In fact, there are three good reasons to review your estate planning documents right now.
Families change. A new child or grandchild may be covered by provisions in your Will or Trust that apply to all current and future descendants. Or, those provisions may be specific only to those who were alive at the time the document was signed. Additions to your family should trigger a review of your estate planning documents. Changes to bequests or trusts may be appropriate at this time.
Marriage, whether yours or a descendant’s, could alter the way you want your assets to be divided after your death. In some cases, you may want to add the new family member’s name to your Will or Trust. Other times, you may want to exclude someone from inheriting or ensure your assets stay in the family rather than going to a son- or daughter-in-law. In any event, looking over your documents or having your attorney review them could prevent trouble down the road.
For example, a divorce in the family will almost certainly mean adjustments in bequests, trustees, executors, and so on. And your Will or Trust is not the only document that might change. If you’ve signed a durable power of attorney or an advanced healthcare directive, for example, you may have named your now ex-spouse as your agent. After a divorce, check to see if the people named as agents or executors need to be replaced.
And, finally, your estate planning documents may need to be changed after the death of a family member or friend who has some interest or role to play in your plan. Review and adjust your Will and other documents as needed.
Perhaps your investments have done particularly well this year. Your personal net worth has grown exponentially and your business profits have risen. This is a time to celebrate – and evaluate your estate plan. Is your estate larger than the current IRS estate tax exemption? Do you need additional tax planning? These are just some of the questions to discuss with your Florida estate planning attorney.
On the other side of the coin, what if your investments have not done well and your business has closed? These events, too, will prompt a review of your planning. Adjustments may be needed, particularly in your Will and any trusts you’ve set up.
Estate planning covers a range of issues, including estate tax reduction, asset protection, and how certain items, like firearms, are passed on to the next generation. Florida state laws and regulations change periodically, as does federal law. Most people don’t stay informed about modified laws, but your estate planning attorney will stay informed and will know how your plan may be impacted.
Your estate planning documents present your family with a detailed plan on how you want things to be handled in the event of death or incapacity. Make sure that plan reflects your current family structure, financial status, and complies with Florida law.
We look forward to reviewing your estate plan with you. Attorney John Mangan is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. Please call us at 772-324-9050 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. We help clients throughout Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.