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January 21, 2021

When Should You Start an Estate Plan in Florida?

If you haven’t begun considering what will happen to your estate after death, the time is now to do so. This question is not only critical to ask yourself throughout different life stages but requires a commitment to creating and maintaining an estate plan to protect your loved ones and assets in the event of your death. But when should you start? This question and other Florida estate planning questions are answered below. Read on to learn more.

When is an Estate Plan Necessary?

As a rule of thumb, sooner is better than later when it comes to starting an estate plan. Ideally, as soon as you are a legal adult, you should take steps to have your directives in place. You should also keep it updated every few years after experiencing new milestones like marriage, the birth of children, or buying property. However, this is usually not a top priority for most young adults.

When determining if you ought to set up an estate plan, any of the below situations are a good sign, you should:

You Own Real Estate or Other Property

Any time you purchase a new home, investment properties, or even vehicles, you should consider setting up an estate plan. Taking this step will shield your loved ones from a costly Florida probate process.

You Get Married

When you marry your partner, you inherit more than just new family members. You will need to combine your assets, set up life insurance funds, and more. Marriage is a prime time for considering your futures together, including planning for the unexpected.

Divorce

If your marriage ends, any assets you receive should be accounted for in your final wishes in the event of your death. Florida residents who die intestate (without an estate plan) will have their assets processed through a probate court, which could leave their estates to those they never intended to receive their property.

Birth of Children

Anytime you have a child, you need to ensure you have an estate plan in place or update your existing directives. This means rethinking guardianship and any financial security arranged for them in case you were to pass away unexpectedly.

You are Retiring

If you plan to retire in the next five to ten years and have assets that can affect your Medicare eligibility, planning your estate can keep you qualified.

You Own Financial Accounts

Even if you only have a savings account, creating an estate plan that will designate who should receive the funds within it is a crucial step. Not only can you protect your loved ones from paying estate taxes on those funds, but you can prevent any of your creditors from seizing the money first.

You Inherit Assets or Money

Inherited money and property can quickly convert to a financial support system for those you love during challenging times. Anytime you inherit part of an estate, be sure you set up an estate plan or update your current one to account for the additional assets you gain.

Travel

Whether you travel for business or are a retiree traveling the globe, having an estate plan in place before these journeys are particularly important should you become incapacitated.

When Should You Designate a Guardian?

Guardianship is an important topic to consider if you have young children or a vulnerable loved one who depends on you for care. Who will see to their care after you pass away? How will they be financially supported? And, who can make decisions about their finances if they are unable to do so? Designating a guardian for your child or loved one is critical to get in writing before you die.

Consider Using a Trust Over a Will in Florida

Florida law is clear that an estate involving a surviving spouse with no children will receive the entirety of their partner’s estate if no will exists. Unfortunately, even if you rely on a will to carry out your final wishes, a probate court will need to review and validate it after you die. This is to ensure that your will complies with Florida law, especially when involving homestead property matters.

End-of-life planning using trusts can help your loved ones avoid a costly and lengthy Florida probate process so they can receive the financial support you intended for them sooner.  With a Revocable Living Trust you remain in control over your assets  during your life so that you can adjust it as necessary when you reach a new life milestone.  You may also include restrictions to ensure young or irresponsible beneficiaries do not blow through their inheritance.

How Often Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

What triggers the need for updating an estate plan? Typically, milestones that would impact your wealth or preference for distribution of your estate. For example, the birth of a child may require creating a trust to provide for their care should you die, as well as designating a guardian. Every time you experience these types of life events, you can review your estate plan and modify it accordingly to suit your wishes. Life changes frequently, often unexpectedly, so revisiting your plan every few years and after a significant life experience is critical.

Don’t Delay and Speak With Experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorneys

If you have not begun planning your estate, you must start sooner than later to safeguard your family and future. At The Legacy Law Firm, we work with you to protect the best interests of you, your loved ones, and your assets with our estate planning services. We help you avoid common mistakes that can lead to probate issues, estate tax burdens, and Medicare eligibility jeopardization. Call us today at (954) 999-9683 or contact us online to discuss your unique situation, learn more, and get started.

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