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Estate Planning in Florida? Don't forget these important points

This blog has covered various forms of estate planning that Florida residents may want to consider. Between wills and trusts and insurance policies, there can sometimes seem like a lot of information to sift through. Along with those general categories are also some specific details that Floridians may want to think about when deciding how to attempt to ensure that their wishes, both in life and after death, are given effect.

First is the naming of beneficiaries on insurance policies and other contingent documents. This might include bank accounts and retirement accounts. While most people remember to name a primary beneficiary, it is just as important to designate contingent beneficiaries as well. These are critical in the event that the primary beneficiary predeceases you.

Second is the use of so-called "separate writings" for specific personal property, such as especially valuable items or family heirlooms. These writings are referenced in the will, but exist outside it, allowing the grantor to change the beneficiaries of those items without changing the entire will. Further, any assets that are not readily made liquid in financial terms should receive a professional appraisal.

The third set of considerations concerns estate planning for the inheritance to be given to any children should their surviving parent remarry. This is especially true for a woman, as the percentage of men who become involved with another woman within two years after his wife's death is over 60%. This means adding specific language to a will or establishing a trust. Potential beneficiaries might also prevail upon their widowed parents to enter into a prenuptial agreement to protect any inheritance.

Finally, Floridians need to plan for their own incapacity. Using a trust or executing powers of attorney and advance medical directives are imperative in protecting your wishes from being disregarded. Further, it is important to think carefully and choose the right people to endow with power over your affairs. Competent people whom you trust are always a good idea.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Seven common estate planning traps to avoid," Karin Grablin, June 9, 2015

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