Some Florida residents may delay estate planning because they do not want to think about death. Others may do so because they think they have too few assets to make a will worthwhile. However, even people whose only holdings are a small bank account and a home probably have a preference about who they want those assets to go to. For those who genuinely have no assets, a will can still serve other purposes. It can appoint a guardian for any minor children. A will can also be used to specify funeral plans.
Another common error people make is thinking they do not need to update the estate plan because there have been no major changes in their family. However, this does not mean that applicable laws have stayed the same. For example, the estate tax exemption in 1999 was $650,000. In 2019, it is over $11 million. Strategies to shield an estate from taxes may no longer be necessary. An executor might also need to be replaced with someone younger who is likely to live longer.
Some people may think having a will makes updating beneficiary designations unnecessary. However, assets that require a beneficiary designation are not governed by a will. Furthermore, beneficiary designations override instructions in wills.
Making plans in case of becoming incapacitated is another reason people may need to create or revise an estate plan even if they have few assets. A health care power of attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions for a person in the event of incapacity. A financial power of attorney appoints someone to handle the person’s finances in the same situation. These do not need to be the same person and may actually require different skills although in both cases, it should be someone who can manage family conflict effectively.