Estate planning is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your wishes. Estate plan documents advocate for your wishes should you become unable to manage your own affairs. Additionally, these documents ensure your wishes are followed for your beneficiary designations after your passing. If you need assistance from an estate planning attorney in Florida, below are some important items to consider.

Important Estate Planning Checklist

    1. Establish a Last Will & Testament: This document shows how you want the executor or personal representative of your estate to distribute your assets after your passing, who will inherit from you, and who will care for minor children. Without a Last Will and Testament, the state law will determine the distribution of your assets through the probate process which may incur unnecessary time and expense.
    2. Set Up a Trust: A revocable living trust differs from a Last Will and Testament by being available for use during your lifetime. Like a Last Will and Testament, a revocable trust states how you want your assets distributed after death but can be amended or revoked during your lifetime and gives someone else the right to manage your affairs if needed while you are alive. An irrevocable trust does the same but cannot be amended.
    3. Attend to Your Health Care Documents: Living wills, health care surrogates, and advance health care directives are all legal documents stating your wishes for medical decisions, life-prolonging medical procedures, long-term care, medical treatments, and who has the power to make medical decisions. Learn more about estate planning documents and trust funding at our monthly seminars.
    4. Declare a Preneed Guardian: No one plans to become incapacitated; however, tragedies and accidents happen sometimes. By naming a preneed guardian, you establish who will manage your affairs if you become mentally or physically disabled and in need of guardianship, rather than the court choosing someone for you.
    5. Establish Durable Power of Attorney: This legal document specifically gives the person you choose (i.e. your agent) legal and financial power of attorney to act on your behalf regarding those affairs, including if you should later become incapacitated.
    6. Update Important Forms: As you get older and/or life circumstances change, remember to update forms to reflect your current situation, relationships, and family structure. Make sure you have updated HIPAA authorizations for access to your medical information, contingent beneficiaries, and beneficiary forms for financial accounts, investment accounts, employers, and retirement accounts, create succession plans for any businesses, verify accurate titling of all physical assets and real estate, and generally have ongoing/updated conversations with the important people in your life.
    7. Obtain Life Insurance: Life insurance policies can be a good option to ensure your family peace of mind that they can continue living in the way you desire if your income ceases due to your passing. Long-term care insurance can also help protect your assets if you need long-term medical care.
    8. Make Funeral Plans & Final Arrangements: Planning and paying for a funeral plan, burial plot, etc. ahead of your passing is not only typically less expensive, it is a way to relieve some of the burden from your family after your passing because they will know exactly what you wanted.

Estate Planning is Important

Estate planning can be intimidating; however, it is essential legal advice to protect you, your assets, and your loved ones. To discuss your complete estate plan needs and estate planning documents with an experienced estate attorney, contact us today.

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