Hopefully as you enter the new year, you aren’t grappling with a financial hangover due to the holidays. Regardless of where you stand, the new year is a good time to take stock of your finances and make sure you have a strong estate plan in place, not only for your own security but that of your family. Many of the disputes that arise in Florida probate litigation can be headed off with proper estate planning to start.
One of the primary reasons people avoid estate planning is because they erroneously assume it’s something reserved for the wealthy and maybe the elderly. The fact of the matter is, pretty much everybody has an estate and people tend to underestimate the confusion or even animosity that can arise among surviving loved ones regarding the contents of that estate. That includes the care and well-being of any young children you have, should something happen to you and your spouse.
A review of your estate planning documents may not sound like a particularly festive way to being a brand new year, but it is a smart one. You’ll want to make sure that your will, trust and powers of attorney still comply with your wishes. And if you don’t have these in place, it’s time to make it one of your resolutions to do so.
Our probate litigation attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know that while you can never predict what the future may hold, there are some common threads we see when disputes arise. We also recognize how they could have been prevented. Some things to consider in reviewing or drafting your estate planning files:
Examine what changes have occurred in your life since you last updated your estate documents. If you have gotten married or divorced, had a child, moved or had some major financial event occur, these changes could have an impact on your estate, and these changes may need to be reflected in your updated documents.
- Look over your will and/ or revocable trust. These are documents that indicate where your assets will go at the time of your death. You need to make sure that the person you have listed as your personal representative and/ or trustee are up-to-date, that the beneficiaries you name reflect who should receive your money and that you have clearly stipulated where certain gifts (i.e., heirlooms or jewelry) should go. Some people even outline where their pets should go. Having all of this up-to-date can help avoid probate litigation among survivors.
- Update your financial power of attorney/ health care power of attorney. These are individuals you name to be in charge of either financial and business matters or decisions pertaining to your health care if you are incapacitated.
- Review your insurance and retirement plans to make certain the beneficiaries listed therein are still accurate. If you have been through a divorce or other major life change, it’s possible you may want to update this information to reflect your wishes.
If a dispute does arise involving an estate, an experienced, compassionate probate litigation attorney can help you navigate the complex and emotional process.
Call Fort Lauderdale Probate Litigation Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Estate Planning At Any Age: It’s Not Just for the Wealthy, Dec. 20, 2017, Ameritrade