The New Year is here, have you completed all your resolutions? January is underway and we know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. What did your resolutions focus on? Work or health or family or all three? Did you include creating a Florida estate plan?

We believe that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make is to create your Florida estate plan. With an estate plan in place you can protect yourself both during life and at the time of your death. By working with your Florida estate planning attorney, you can create an estate plan that will protect you while you are living and then your estate when you pass away. In addition, your attorney will make sure that your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. He will also show you how to make sure that your family will be provided for when you are no longer here with them.

Do you already have an estate plan? That is excellent news. However, it is important that your plan currently reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. We all realize that in one year many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances. It is important to meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only summarizing the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.

Now you ask, how and where do I begin? Below we have six questions to share with you to think about. You may use these questions to ask your Florida estate planning attorney as you work on your Florida estate plan in the New Year.

1. I think some of my immediate family members have changed, should I update my plan? Absolutely! If there has been a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, make it a priority to work with your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. Do any of the federal or state laws have an effect on my estate plan? This is an important question to ask your attorney! As part of his estate planning practice your attorney stays up to date with all the latest information that could impact your legal planning and can make recommendations on if your current plan needs to be updated or changed.

3. What exactly is a Florida estate plan? A Florida estate plan employs a variety of legal planning tools to protect you while you are alive and can address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity.

4. Am I really unprotected if I do not have a Florida estate plan? Yes, you are unprotected if you have a crisis or you pass away because there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. If you do not take the time to create an estate plan the court in Florida may be required, in order for there to be legal authority, for another person to act on your behalf. This is often time consuming, costly, and public. All of this can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.

5. When should I get started with creating or updating my estate plan? As soon as possible. To maximize the potential benefits a Florida estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.

6. What about long-term care planning, is it too soon for that? No. It is never too early to plan for long-term care and your future needs. You can choose to work with an estate planning attorney who also has experience in Florida long-term care planning. Your attorney can advise you on how to plan to avoid losing all of your savings to pay for nursing home care.

7. At my first appointment, what can I expect my Florida estate planning attorney to discuss with me? To begin, he will discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning. He will describe various tools, such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. He can help you choose your decision maker, as well as back up decision maker, for times of crisis. He can also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning.

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. At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.