Important Questions to Consider When You Create or Update Your Estate Plan in the New Year

The new year is here, we are into the month of January, have you completed your New Year’s resolutions? We know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. What was the main focus of your resolutions? Was it work or health or family or all three? Did you include creating or updating your estate plan?

We believe that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make this year is to create or update your Florida estate plan. An estate plan is good protection both during life and at the time of your death. Working with your Florida estate planning attorney, you can create and update an estate plan that will protect you while you are living and then your estate when you pass away. With the advice of your attorney and the legal tools you create, your choices for your decision maker for health care and finances will be honored. In addition, your attorney’s advice will show you how to make sure 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! When was the last time your estate plan was updated? As everyone knows, many changes can occur In one year within your family, your business, and your finances. Therefore, it should be a priority to make sure your estate plan remains effective, in not only encapsulating the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.

Ready to start? Here are some key questions that we would like to share for you to think about. We also encourage you to use these questions to ask your Florida estate planning attorney as you work on your Florida estate plan in the new year.

1. I know that there have been changes in my family, should I update my plan? Absolutely! Make it a priority to check in with your attorney whenever there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, she can determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. Do state and federal laws have any effect on my estate plan? This is an important question to ask your attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney stays up to date with all the latest information, laws and anything that could impact a client’s estate plan. She can make recommendations on if your current plan needs to be updated or changed.

3. If I do not have a plan, am I really unprotected? Yes. For one thing, a Florida estate plan employs a variety of legal planning tools to address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity. If you have a crisis or you pass away without an estate plan there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. If you do not create an estate plan, and you have a crisis or pass away, the court in Florida will be required to select, in order for there to be legal authority, another person to act on your behalf. Often this can be time consuming, costly, and public. Most important, all of this can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.

4. When should I consider long-term care planning? Now! It is never too early to start to plan for long-term care and your future needs. We would encourage you 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 so that you can avoid losing all of your savings to pay for nursing home care.

5. If I have a will, can I avoid probate? No. A will by itself must be read by the Florida probate court. If one of your estate planning goals is to avoid probate, you should discuss adding a trust to your estate plan in a meeting with your attorney.

6. What additional topics might my Florida estate planning attorney discuss with me? She will, again, discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning and keeping it updated. She may 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. We understand your problems and we want to help you and your family. The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.