Is updating your Florida estate plan one of your New Year’s resolutions? Did you know that estate planning is probably the single most important thing you can do to make sure your wishes are honored after you pass away? However, failing to regularly update your estate plan could prove to be very impactful and costly.
To begin, one of the main purposes of any Florida estate plan is to provide instructions for how your assets are to be distributed after your passing. By working with your qualified Florida estate planning attorney you can choose either a last will and testament or a revocable trust to distribute your assets to your loved ones.
To continue, though, it is very important to keep your will or trust updated. Here is why. To begin, if you or someone named in your estate was married since your estate planning documents were written, then your plan should be revised to reflect those changes as soon as possible. Additional changes could include a divorce, death in the family, or birth of a new child or grandchild. If these life changes are not included before you pass away, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be known or followed. The result could be unnecessary confrontation between family members, probate delays and even litigation between your family members at a time of emotional grieving.
Another problem that may occur if you do not update your Florida estate plan may be the loss of value in your estate. We highly recommend that your estate plan be evaluated, at the very least, every three years. This is not just to account for important life changes but also for tax reasons. If you do not keep up with changes in the federal or state tax laws, it may influence the final value of your assets. Your Florida estate planning attorney will be up-to-date with all laws affecting estate planning, including all tax changes.
Did you know that there are many states that have their own estate taxes, some states have an inheritance tax, and some states have both? By neglecting to reach out to your Florida estate planning attorney in order to stay on top of how these tax issues might impact your estate plan could result in an estate worth a lot less to your loved ones. We also recommend that you update your plan if the value of your estate has grown by 20 percent, because with asset growth comes growth in tax liability.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s Resolution of having a Florida estate plan that can meet your needs. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website to get the answers and representation you need this year.