Your Florida Estate Planning Checklist

Your Florida Estate Planning Checklist

Your Florida Estate Planning Checklist

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn’t just about figuring out what junk to leave behind to your surviving family, and it absolutely isn’t something that you can put off until the eleventh hour. Getting an estate plan together isn’t difficult. Here’s an estate planning checklist with some of the most important components to consider.

Your Property

It’s time to take inventory of your assets. Assets are a comprehensive term for your money and possessions. You’ll want to list out all of your bank accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, and any other investment accounts you have. Next, list out any real estate and vehicles (including boats) that you own. Last comes the remainder of your valuables, such as collectibles, antiques, and works of art. Keep in mind that this does not need to be a list that contains absolutely everything that you own, just the things that are important to you and would like to pass on to future generations.

Who Gets What?

Things can get dramatic and tricky here, or so daytime television would have you believe. The good news is that legal procedurals and soap operas tend to exaggerate things. As a rule of thumb, many married couples will leave all of their possessions to their spouse in their estate plan, but you should have contingencies in place should your partner outlive you. Whether you decide on dividing up your personal property equally among your family or on assigning specific items to specific people is entirely up to you.

Guardianship

No parent wants to think that they won’t make it to their child’s 18th birthday. The sad reality is that it happens. A will lets you decide who will take guardianship of your children if the worst comes to pass. Make sure it’s someone you can trust, has the means to care for them, and is willing to do so.

Your Executor

The executor is the person in charge of filing paperwork, tax returns, and distributing your assets among your beneficiaries. They need to be reliable and capable of dealing with your surviving family members.

Financial Power of Attorney

You’ve probably already heard of this one. When a person falls ill or is otherwise incapacitated, “durable power of attorney” allows another individual to come in and take over your financial (and legal) affairs on your behalf. It is imperative that you pick someone who has demonstrated fiscal responsibility in the past and who you can trust to always have your best interests at heart.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

When an individual has been rendered unable to make their own medical decisions due to sickness or other complications, that’s when healthcare power of attorney kicks in. Much like the power of attorney discussed above, this empowers another person to make those medical decisions on your behalf. In some situations, this position can be even more important than the person you appoint to be your financial and/or legal proxy. Pick someone that you are absolutely confident when it comes to making the hard choices under pressure.

A Living Will

Also known as advanced directives, living wills have become more prevalent in recent decades as medical technologies get better and better at extending life. This is especially true for us Floridians, as many of us can remember the struggle over the fate of Terry Schiavo that ended in 2005. A living will dictates what you would like in terms of medical treatment when you are terminally ill or have been left unable to communicate due to a persistent vegetative state. Think long and carefully about how you want to be treated at the end of life, whether or not you want your body to be kept on life support even if it’s unlikely that you’ll ever recover. It’s a hard question, but it’s an important one to answer.

Hopefully, our Estate Planning Checklist has given you a better idea about what you need moving forward. However, there’s still a lot more to learn. Take a look at our blog here to learn about some of the biggest mistakes that people make when writing their wills. 

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