Answer these 7 simple questions to find out!
- Have you prepared a Will or Trust?
If you do not have a will, the State of Florida will determine how your assets will pass. This could have potentially undesired results!
- If you have done a Will or Trust, has it been reviewed in the last 2 years?
You may have experienced family or financial changes since your plan was prepared. In addition, the laws in Florida may have changed which affect your particular planning documents. For example, Florida recently passed legislation allowing representatives to access and control online accounts and digital assets. Since most people use the internet for banking, social media, and emails, it is important to have specific language in your documents that gives this authority to your representatives.
An out-of-date estate plan perhaps is worse than no estate plan at all. Think of estate planning as a process, not an event.
- Does your current plan provide your heirs with asset protection, divorce protection, and lawsuit protection?
Under Florida law, children and grandchildren can inherit property at age 18 without restriction. Proper planning is crucial to prevent an heir from squandering his or her inheritance. Are the distributions to your children protected from their creditors and divorce?
- Do you only have a Will and not a Living Trust?
Many of your assets could be subject to Probate proceedings. Probates are costly and require many months to conclude. A properly funded Living Trust is an excellent way to avoid Probate.
- Should your decision makers be changed?
Over time, many people change their minds about who is best suited to be their personal representatives, trustees, and health decision makers. Or the people designated in the original documents may have moved, died, become ill, or grown distant. You should also consider naming successors to act as back-up.
- Is this your only marriage?
Second or subsequent marriages present unique planning issues, particularly if both have children from a prior marriage. Proper planning is critical to prevent undesired results.
- Do you have assets titled jointly with a child or children, or someone else?
Holding assets jointly with someone else other than a spouse is quite common, but has some potentially devastating consequences of which most people are unaware. In Florida, a creditor of a joint tenant can claim the asset! A creditor would include a divorcing spouse, judgment creditor, or business creditor. Additionally, problems can be created if joint tenants die in the wrong order. There are better ways to allow your children to access your accounts.
Please contact the Law Office of Debra G. Simms for your free estate planning consult. Don’t wait until it’s too late!