November 14th, 2019
Estate planning can be a tricky thing and it’s not something anyone enjoys talking about. Still, it’s important to tackle it to protect your loved ones if the unthinkable happens. Here are the basics of estate planning that you should cover with a Coral Springs probate and estate planning attorney.
Inventory Your Belongings
Most people don’t think they have enough to need estate planning, but just one look around and you’ll soon notice what you have, such as the following tangible assets:
- The home and land
- Collectible items, such as antiques or even a stamp collection
- Other personal possessions
And the following intangible assets:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance policies
- Business ownership
- Health savings accounts
- Retirement plans
Account for Your Family
When you’ve got a good enough sense of the assets in your estate, you’ll want to consider how best to protect them and your family. You’ll want to consider the following:
- Do you have a good enough life insurance policy?
- Have you named a guardian for any children? And a backup guardian, just in case?
- Have you documented how you wish the children to be cared for?
- Who do you want to receive your assets if something happens to you? How should assets be divided?
Establish Legal Directives
Important legal directives such as the following are essential for any complete estate plan.
- Medical care directive (also known as a living will)
- A durable financial power of attorney
- A limited power of attorney
Some estates may also benefit from a trust.
Be careful to whom you grant power of attorney. They’ll have your financial well-being and your life in their hands if you become incapacitated. Sometimes it can be wise to spread medical and financial representation around to different people, and have backups in place too.
Go Over Your Beneficiaries
While your wishes will be covered by your will, they may not be all-inclusive.
- Make sure your belongings are going to the right people
- Name backup beneficiaries
- Check your insurance and retirement accounts
- Don’t leave any beneficiary sections empty
Be Aware of Your State’s Estate Tax Laws
Estate planning can be a good way to minimize estate and inheritance taxes, however many won’t need to pay them.
- Federally speaking, only the largest estates, over $11.4 million, will be subject to estate taxes.
- Some states have their own estate taxes and may levy estate tax on estates that fall below the federal $11.4 million. Florida does not have a state estate tax, but your estate may still be subject to taxes from another state.
- Some states may require residents to pay taxes on any inherited money.
Consider Professional Assistance
Depending on your situation, you may want to consider hiring an attorney or estate tax professional to lend you a hand for the following reasons:
- If you have doubts about the process
- If you have a large or complex estate (such as business issues, concerns with child care or nonfamilial heirs)
- You may benefit from a trust
- An online or packaged will writing program may be sufficient if you have a very small estate and simple wishes.
Are you ready to begin planning your estate and protecting your family’s financial future? Contact a Coral Springs probate and estate planning attorney at The Legacy Law Firm to get started with a consultation.