Do you currently have a Florida estate plan? When was the last time you read and reviewed it? In fact, how old is your estate plan? Has it ever been updated? Are you confident that all of the planning tools that should be included in your estate plan are within it? Finally, and most importantly, does your Florida estate plan reflect your current needs, values, family, and the legacy you want to leave at the time of your passing?

In our law firm we find that most of the clients we work with understand the importance of creating a Florida estate plan. They know that they need to decide now what should happen in a time of sudden crisis or death, and they absolutely do not want to leave their wishes either to chance or to a state mandated process.  Unfortunately, they do not keep in mind the upkeep a comprehensive Florida estate plan requires. Be mindful that your Florida estate plan is a critical part of not only your estate but your overall health and well being. Therefore, it should not be left unattended in a filing cabinet or on a shelf, never to be opened again.  Instead, your Florida estate plan should be reviewed at least every three years, if not every year, to make sure it will still work the way you need it to.

Our clients feel that the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have a completed Florida estate plan is the most important part of developing their estate plan. When you create your Florida estate plan you are ensuring that you, your loved ones and your legacy are protected against uncertainty, potential harm, and confusion. Below we have and would like to share and review some real concerns that could cause older or unmaintained Florida estate plans to not work in the manner you had planned.      

1. There may be changes in the laws. Often laws change over time and even the best drafted Florida estate plans may need to be updated periodically. Therefore, it is important for you to meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to review your Florida estate plan to make sure that the laws governing your estate plan are still in place. Also, when you meet with your Florida estate planning attorney he can advise you about whether there are more advantageous or new laws that should be incorporated into your planning as well.

2. There may be changes in your family. When we meet with our returning clients about their Florida estate planning, we often find that the family structure that our clients originally came to us with to create their estate plans has changed over time. You need to know that births, deaths, and divorces are just the start of the family structure changes that can impact your Florida estate plan. It is important to develop a relationship with your Florida estate planning attorney so that he knows when there are changes in your family that can impact who inherits from you at the time of your passing, and how.

3. There may be changes in your decision makers. In addition to the changes to your family structure, there may be changes to the person or persons you selected to make your decisions for you in the event of your incapacity or death. It is crucial that you inform your Florida estate planning attorney as soon as possible if one of your decision makers no longer wishes to act on your behalf or cannot act due to his or her own personal needs or death. It is very important that you are not without a decision maker in place to either manage your health or your finances when you are most vulnerable.

4. There may be changes in the goals for your legacy. As  circumstances and things change over time, this may also hold true for your legacy. What you wanted for your legacy when you first started planning may no longer be the case today.  But unless you update your Florida estate plan, this fact will remain unknown. Again, by developing a strong relationship with your Florida estate planning attorney and keeping your attorney in the know at all times goals relating to your legacy can be maintained. You can be sure that you are crafting a Florida estate plan that reflects what you want both now and as the future unfolds.

We know this article raises more questions that it answers. Our office can help guide a family through long-term care planning for aging parents and loved ones. 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.