Are There Any Key Gaps in Your Florida Estate Plan?
When someone asks whether you have an estate plan in place, you’ll probably answer with a confident “YES” if you’ve already executed a will. You might even go a step further by taking the time to review the document and make necessary updates based upon different life events. There may be a crucial flaw, however, since a will is not in itself an estate plan. Though it handles transfers of property and assets, and supports other components – without other critical essentials – there may be key gaps in your estate plan.
You should review your situation with a Dade City estate planning lawyer to ensure your arrangement aligns with your intentions, but here are a few examples of documents that fill-in where your will doesn’t.
Trusts: There are some circumstances where you’ll want to maintain some control over your assets upon death, and a trust is the best way to accomplish this goal. An outright bequest in a will may not be appropriate for a younger beneficiary, but a trust has binding effect on that person’s usage of the funds.
Life Insurance: Depending on the nature of your assets, you may need to provide some liquidity for tasks related to estate administration. Alternatively, one or more of your heirs may need income in the short term after your death. Designating beneficiaries on a life insurance policy is a hassle-free way to pass funds because the transaction doesn’t need to go through the probate process.
Beneficiary Designations: Similar to life insurance policies, you can designate beneficiaries for other accounts instead of having them go through probate. Make sure to review your 401(K), IRA, retirement, investment, and other assets to determine the arrangements that are currently in place. You may need to change beneficiary designations or add a person’s name based upon your intentions.
Transfers by Operation of Law: You might assume that you’ve make appropriate arrangements in your will for all assets, but keep in mind that there could be issues with how you hold title. If you’re a joint owner, especially on real estate, there may be survivorship rights. When a deed includes the terms “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” the property does NOT pass according to the will. Your ownership interest passes to the other joint owner by operation of law.
Talk to a Florida Estate Planning Attorney About Filling the Gaps
As you can see, there is a lot more to an estate plan than just a will. If you need advice on how to create a comprehensive arrangement that accounts for many of the issues above, please contact the Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. You can reach our Dade City location by calling 352-567-0055 or going online to set up a no-cost consultation. Once we review your circumstances, we can provide guidance on your next steps.