Many people in Florida feel that they have a handle on their estate planning if they make out a will and name a trusted executor. However, people may want to consider a more thorough approach to an estate plan, especially if they have significant assets or want to ease the process of transferring property to their loved ones after death. A will is an important piece of the estate planning process, but there are many more items that people can use in order to make sure that their wishes are carried out.
Some of the most important supplements to wills can be beneficiary designations and transfer-on-death or payable-on-death assets. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other items can make use of these type of designations to transfer simply and easily outside the probate process. It is also important to make sure that these designations are up to date. In some cases, people have failed to change their beneficiary designations even years after divorce or the death of the named person, leading to unexpected results. While these kinds of transfers are not a replacement for a will, they can play an important role.
There are other documents that can be an important part of an estate plan for people at any level of wealth. For example, advanced medical directives and a healthcare power of attorney can be critical in ensuring that a person’s wishes are respected in case of incapacity.
People who want to create a more efficient and thorough plan for the future may consult with an estate planning attorney. A lawyer may understand a person’s goals for the plan and work to create a complete set of estate documents, including wills, trusts and powers of attorney, that is designed to put those goals into practice.