An estate plan provides for the management and disposition of your property, during your lifetime as well as after your death. No matter what your net worth, it is very important to have a basic estate plan in place to ensure that your family and financial goals are met after you die.
According to LexisNexis, approximately 55% of U.S. adults do not have a Will or an estate plan in place. This leaves one open to costly fees and litigation. It is often recommended that anyone over the age of 18 should start an estate plan creating a solid foundation for them to move forward.
One should view their estate plan as a “living document” that needs to be reviewed. As life happens, so do changes in your estate plan, including things like the attainment of new assets, a marriage, a divorce, babies or adoptions, when children become adults, and more. When these occurrences happen, you should review and modify your estate plan accordingly. While this can be done anytime, you should consider reviewing at least every three to five years or when there is a major life event. You also need to make sure that the prior version of your will is properly rescinded.
Estate Plans are unique to each individual and can have several elements including:
- Living wills
- Trusts (revocable trust or irrevocable trust)
- Life insurance trusts
- Charitable trusts
- Special “needs” trusts
- Durable powers of attorney
- Healthcare proxy (medical power of attorney)
- Elder law (long-term care planning)
- Tax planning
The process of creating an estate plan often includes inventorying your assets, making a will and/or establishing a trust, preparing a durable power of attorney and other advanced directives. Also addressed are ways to minimize taxes on your estate, name a guardian to care for your children and your children’s assets, identify your charitable inclinations, preserve your assets against catastrophic illnesses, establish who and how you will be cared for and for the management of your assets in case you are disabled by an incapacitating illness or accident, designate your preferences concerning life support, and designate a person or persons to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make them for yourself.
Don’t let the state of Florida decide where your wealth and property will go after you die. Estate plans can help ensure your wishes are followed and that your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries you have chosen and they can save your heirs time and money.
KALIS, KLEIMAN & WOLFE help beneficiaries, family businesses, individuals and families, and professionals on a variety of lifetime planning issues, including estate planning, wills, trusts, property transfers, income, estate gift and more.
We assist clients throughout South Florida including St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade-Counties. If you considering establishing an estate plan, updating an estate plan, or have questions or concerns regarding the will, trusts and estates, contact the experienced Probate, Wills & Trust Attorneys today at (954) 791-0477.