Four Mistakes That Defeat the Purpose of Estate Plans

Four Mistakes That Defeat the Purpose of Estate Plans

Four Mistakes That Defeat the Purpose of Estate Plans

You might be surprised to learn that there’s more to estate planning in Florida than drafting your last will and testament. Sure, the main purpose of estate plans is to cover the distribution of your belongings, finances, and other assets to your surviving friends and family. However, there are several other factors to consider, such as who will hold power of attorney if you’re incapacitated.

Planning your estate can be difficult (that’s why we have a checklist on what to consider here). Still, it’s something you must absolutely take care of, for your family’s peace of mind if not your own. Estate planning is important and should be done with serious thought and care.

Not Having an Estate Plan in the First Place

Not having an estate plan is a lot like skydiving without a parachute. It’s not just a bad idea – it’s flirting with disaster. Without an estate plan, conflicts and disputes over your belongings are likely to follow. This is especially true if you have any former spouses, stepchildren, or other wild cards in your family. An estate plan doesn’t just determine what goes to who, it spares the grieving survivors the added pain of fighting over what was left behind.

Not Considering Your Options

You need to know your options. As an individual, you need an estate plan that meets your specific needs. A one-size-fits-all template that you found online just isn’t going to cut it. Your last will and testament documents how you want your assets and property to be distributed. It can also name a guardian for any minor children under your care.

A revocable living trust is similar to a last will in that both documents determine who your property and assets go to upon your passing. However, a living trust has the added bonus of avoiding a costly and lengthy probate process. You will still need a will to designate a guardian for your children, though.

Incapacitation, Living Wills, and Beneficiaries

Living wills document your preferences regarding any healthcare decisions that would need to be made when you are incapacitated. If you live in Florida and are of a certain age, you’ve probably at least heard of them in passing. One of the more obvious examples of this involves providing life support to individuals trapped in persistent comas. It’s essential that you make your wishes known.

Power of attorney, much like a living will, is one of those documents that kicks in when you are no longer able to communicate, act, or make decisions on your own. However, instead of laying out your healthcare and end-of-life preferences, power of attorney is something that you “grant” to someone that you trust to make legal and financial decisions while you’re out of commission.

And for the pet lovers out there, you can even have a pet protection agreement included in your estate planning. This agreement allows you to appoint a guardian for your pet, much as you would your minor children.

Not Sharing Your Estate Plan

Planning your estate won’t do you much good if you don’t tell anyone about it. The subject might be difficult to bring up for some people, but it’s a discussion that you need to have. This is about making your intentions known. Inform your loved ones of how you want your possessions distributed so that no one is blindsided when they’re already in an emotional place. Let them know where your estate plans and other legal documents are located, too. Grief is hard enough without having to scramble for paperwork!

Not Updating Your Estate Plan

The main purpose of estate plans is to provide yourself with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you, your family, and your assets are all protected. Still, it’s a smart move to keep your estate plan updated. It’s not a high maintenance issue – you’ll only need to rework it every few years, if that – but one that should be on your mind when there’s a change to your family unit, such as a new baby or a divorce. A change in your estate’s value or a partner’s health is a good reason to go in and revise your documents, too.

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