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Commonly overlooked estate planning matters

Estate planning in Florida is a personal process. The specifics of an estate plan will vary based on the creator's situation. While there are a few things most people can count on needing (such as a will), there are also a few things nearly everyone should avoid. People who are considering their Florida estate plans should avoid naming minors as beneficiaries, drafting their own wills and carelessly adding joint owners to bank accounts.

Beneficiary designations are strong tools in estate planning; they can allow assets to pass outside of probate directly to the chosen beneficiary on the person's death. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies are commonly conveyed via beneficiary designations. There can be problems, though, if the designated beneficiary is a minor. People under the age of 18 may not legally be able to own the asset.

A simple will is often enough of an estate plan to provide peace of mind and ensure proper distribution of assets on death. However, even a simple will is not altogether simple. It can be a big mistake for people to draft their own wills because of the possibilities of conflicting or ambiguous provisions.

Making a child the joint owner of a bank account might be beneficial in certain situations, but it can lead to problems if the child encounters liabilities via lawsuit, divorce or other circumstances. An estate plan that includes a power of attorney or trust instruments can solve these issues.

A Florida lawyer with experience in estate planning could help a client create or update a wills. Legal counsel might draft a will that covers the bulk of the estate or suggest other planning instruments, like trusts, through which assets can pass outside of probate. A lawyer may also be able to review an existing plan to make sure it meets legal requirements and the goals of the client.

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