One of the biggest estate planning error a person can make is not having a will or having one that is from out of state. The latter issue could affect people in Florida if they have moved there from a different state to retire and have not updated their will. Even if the will was made in-state, it needs to be reviewed and potentially updated periodically.
An out-of-state will could either slow down the process of probate or could result in the will being declared completely invalid. Without a will, the person is said to have died intestate, and the estate still has to go through the probate process. People may hesitate to pay an attorney to help in creating an estate plan, but this helps ensure that loved ones have fewer headaches after a person’s death.
There are ways to avoid probate. If the estate is a small one, it may be possible for it to go through a streamlined process. There are also ways of passing assets on that do not involve using a will. Retirement accounts and life insurance pass through beneficiary designations. Bank and investment accounts can be named as Transfer on Death or Paid on Death. Another option is to create a revocable trust. An attorney may be able to help prepare the necessary documents.
One advantage of using an attorney is that there may be estate planning strategies that would be helpful to people that they are unaware of. For example, a trust can be useful if a beneficiary might be irresponsible with money. The trustee can determine when distributions are made. An attorney might also be able to alert people to certain potential pitfalls, such as failing to add new assets to the trust or to make sure that everyone in a blended family receives something.