The end of the year is here. We know, as 2021 quickly comes to a close, there are many things that you have on your to-do list. From spending time with family to making plans for the new year to ensuring that you are able to accomplish what you wanted to during this year, there is so much to do. We would encourage you, though, during this time of planning, to focus on what truly matters, ensuring that your estate plan reflects what you want it to at the end of this year.
Many of our clients, as well as the advisors we work with in our local community, have asked us in the recent months what they should be looking out for when it comes to their estate planning. We realize, as experienced Florida estate planning attorneys, just how much knowledge we have access to based on what we see in our practice. Each day, we meet with clients and their loved ones to discuss just what is needed to ensure that they are personally protected, as well as their businesses, their family, and the legacy they want to leave behind.
Let us share with you our Estate Planning Checklist that you may use now, or any time throughout the year, to make sure that your estate plan reflects your goals for both the present and the future.
1. Estate Planning Accuracy. Did you know, most Americans who have an estate plan never bother to update it? We do not want you to fall into this category. Simple things like name changes and address changes can cause problems when they are not updated to reflect life changes. If you have not updated your estate plan recently with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney, or checked in to make sure it reflects what you actually want, we would encourage you to do this before the end of the year.
2. Health Care Decision Making. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that we cannot take our health for granted. This includes your health care decision-making documents. It is time to check in with your attorney to make sure you have the person you want to have legal authority to make decisions for you in a crisis set up properly.
3. Legacy Creation and Preservation. Estate planning is about so much more than who should inherit from you at your death. A well-crafted estate plan allows you to create a legacy not just for yourself but for your loved ones, too. Does your current estate plan reflect the legacy you wish to leave to the world? Whether it is time to check in to make updates or to truly think about what you want to leave at the time you are longer here, it is time to schedule a meeting with your estate attorney to discuss the legacy you wish to create. Your estate planning attorney will also be able to provide guidance on how to ensure that your legacy will be preserved no matter what life sends your way.
4. Retirement Goals and Planning. A critical part of estate planning is retirement planning. Do you have goals for your retirement at this time? Does your estate plan follow your goals for retirement? Do you need guidance on how to get where you want to go, not just financially, but with an eye on the legacy that you want to create?
5. Tax Preparation and Follow Through. The federal tax structure continues to be a topic of discussion amidst the political discourse in Washington, D.C. You need an experienced estate planning attorney who is monitoring these changes to keep you up-to-date on what may or may not impact you. Although the state of Florida does not have a death tax, Floridians can still be impacted by these changes at a federal level.
6. Long-Term Care Considerations. Have you thought about a future where you might need significant long-term care? Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for most types of long-term care. This makes it essential for you to consider your long-term care needs and how the financial drain on your resources could impact your estate-planning. If you have not thought about your estate plan in conjunction with your long-term care plan, as we approach the end of the year, now is the right time to schedule a meeting with your attorney to discuss how potential long-term care complications could inhibit the attainment of your goals.
7. Probate Avoidance and Beneficiary Protections. Your estate plan should also be crafted in such a way to help you avoid the Florida probate process. While most estate plans can help you avoid probate, very few of them that we review discuss how to protect beneficiaries going forward. Do you have an estate plan that will be able to not only leave a legacy but also ensure that future generations will be protected? If not, this is a topic that should be at the top of your estate planning checklist.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Your Florida estate plan is of critical importance to ensure that you are protected now, as well as into the future. Contact our office now, or at any time throughout the year, to schedule a meeting to make sure you have the Florida estate planning you need to accomplish your goals.