It's a prevalent belief that estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. However, the truth is that money and other assets, regardless of how much they are worth, can be subject to court costs and fees if the owner died without completing certain estate plan documents. Florida residents should strongly consider creating an estate plan, even if they are not wealthy.
Estate planning entails completing legal documents and tasks to ensure that the wishes of an individual are honored if they become incapacitated or die. This includes having a healthcare directive, will, life insurance policies and more. It also means designating trusted family members or friends as guardians for minor children and determining who will receive any cash left behind by the decedent. Without an effective estate plan in place, the surviving loved ones of a decedent could find it difficult to complete simple housekeeping tasks that may be necessary after a death, such as paying off credit cards of the decedent or selling the decedents' vehicle.
One of the first steps that individuals can take when making an estate plan is determining who should be the beneficiaries of their retirement accounts and insurance policies. It is important that people make sure to keep track of their beneficiaries and update their designations when necessary to avoid having assets distributed to an unintended recipient or being forced through the probate process because of a death of beneficiary.
An estate planning attorney may help clients with creating the legal documents necessary for an estate plan. Assistance may be provided for creating certain types of wills, trusts and powers of attorney. The attorney may advise clients about what estate planning strategies can be used to help ensure that their estate does not have to go through probate.