Resolve to Protect Your Heirs
Many people make New Year’s resolutions, though very few people keep them. According to one survey, about 32 percent of people have resolved to spend less and save more money this year. If you’ve also resolved to improve your financial situation, don’t forget to plan for what will happen to those finances in the event of your death. This year make getting your estate plan in order one of your New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep.
Do I Really Need an Estate Plan?
Only about 40 percent of American adults have an estate plan, such as a will or living trust, but 100% of American adults need one. Some people make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is only for those with millions of dollars, real estate, or family tensions. However, estate plans are important for all adults.
No matter how small your assets may seem, you no doubt want to decide who will receive them. It is possible that the intended recipients will still benefit if you do not make a plan. However, if you die without an estate plan, Florida law dictates that your assets go through probate court, which is to say that it is divided by the courts according to the law. This can be a long, expensive process, eating away at the benefits that should go to your family.
What if I Already Have a Plan?
It’s great to create an estate plan, but estate planning is not a one-time job. Now, it’s time to make sure that your plan is fully updated and enforceable. Make sure to review your plan yearly, or whenever important life changes occur. Changes which should prompt a review of your estate plan include:
- Marriage or divorce
- Accrual of major debt
- Increase or decrease in assets
- Addition of children, grandchildren, or other heirs
- Death of heirs
- Moving to another state
Whether or not any major changes have occurred, it is important to have your estate plan reviewed to ensure that it can be enforced in the manner you wish. If you have a will, you may also wish to consult an attorney about the possible benefits of using a trust instead, as it offers some tax benefits and eliminates the need to go through the court system before the inheritance can be disbursed.
What to Include in an Estate Plan
Your attorney can advise you on the specifics of what to include in your estate plan, but general considerations include:
- A living will and health care surrogate to spell out end of life issues such as medical care
- An executor for the estate
- Designation of beneficiaries for large or sentimental assets and possessions
- A power of attorney for financial decision-making if you are unable
Creating an Estate Plan
Contact the office of David Toback, Attorney at Law in Tampa today to begin drafting or revising your plan. We can help to ensure that all of your assets are accounted for and that they are dispersed as you wish. Our attorneys can also keep your estate plan up to date with changes in assets, laws, and family circumstances.