As you think about planning for the future have you thought about creating an estate plan? Are you concerned about the welfare of your family? Are you concerned with your own welfare if you become incapacitated? Would you like to leave a legacy behind when you pass away? These are all great questions that you should ask yourself. However, we would like to help with our 7 unexpected tips for you so that you can create a successful estate plan.
To begin, many of our clients did not feel they needed an estate plan, but only needed a last will and testament. Mistakenly, they believed that an estate plan was only for the very wealthy. So, they put off creating a will and meeting with an attorney to learn about their options and what the protections they and their family might need for the future.
They are not alone in this belief. Research tells us that only one in three Americans today have a last will and testament. However, each of us does need to decide what we want for the future; for ourselves, our family, our business, and our legacy. This is not planning that is exclusively for the very wealthy and, in truth, it is planning not just a document.
Therefore, we would like to share seven tips with you that you may find unexpected as you begin to create a successful Florida estate plan.
1. Work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. There are many types of lawyers you can work with for your legal needs. However, when it comes to estate planning, it is important to work with an attorney with experience in this area who can guide you through the process and solutions you need to reach your goals.
2. Is probate part of the planning process? What is probate? Probate is the process of concluding all of your affairs at death. It is managed by the court in Florida which often makes it slow, costly, and public. By working with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney you can create documents, such as a trust agreement, that may reduce the chances of your estate needing to go through the probate process at your death.
3. Become familiar with the names, the meaning and need of the legal documents in your estate plan. Last will and testament. Irrevocable trust agreement. Revocable trust agreement. Power of attorney. Living will. There are just a few of the numerous documents that could be in your estate plan. When you meet with your estate planning attorney, ask about what you may not have heard of yet and listen. Your attorney can share the estate planning tools with you that could meet your goals for planning both now and in the future.
4. Remember you have digital assets. As you work with your attorney in planning your estate, it is only natural to think about your bank account, your house, and your car. However, be sure to not forget your digital assets. You should discuss with your attorney in your planning meeting about how you should protect these often intangible, but valuable, assets.
5. Provide for your furry family members. You need a plan for your pets, too. What do you want to happen to your pets if you are incapacitated or at your death? Who should take care of them? How will they be financially provided for? Be sure to consider what you want for them and discuss this in your planning meeting with your attorney.
6. You need to address your goals for possible long-term care. Often, long term care is something that many of our clients not only do not consider, but do not know they should consider before they meet with us. However, a crisis that results in the need for long term care can happen at any time, at any age and is something that should be actively planned for as a part of your estate plan. You need to think about and discuss with your attorney what type of care would you want? Would you be able to afford it? Knowing the ins and outs of long term care planning is very important.
7. Be sure to have good and trusted decision makers and back ups. While it may seem unnecessary to plan for a contingent decision maker, you should always err on the side of caution. If your decision maker cannot act, who is your next choice? Discuss this with your attorney and carefully include them in the estate planning you are creating.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Let us help you create a successful estate plan that will care for you both now and in the future. 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.