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  • Writer's pictureWorley Elder Law

What Should Be at the Top of Your Estate Planning Checklist in the New Year?

Do you realize that as you welcome the New Year, it is not just a time for resolutions but also an opportune moment to revisit and update your Florida estate planning? Why is that? Because a well-structured Florida estate plan ensures that your legacy is managed and distributed according to your wishes, providing peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. Even more importantly, it can also protect you during your lifetime in the event of your incapacity.

But where should you start? What do you need to focus on first? We know you have questions and want to share with you a Florida estate planning checklist to guide you through the essential components of estate planning in the New Year. We encourage you not only to review it but to schedule a meeting with our law firm to get answers to your Florida estate planning questions.

1. Review your last will and testament and trust agreements. These two estate planning tools are the cornerstone of your estate plan. It is vital to review them periodically and potentially update your will to reflect any changes in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of significant assets.

2. Update beneficiary designations. Life changes, and so should your beneficiary designations. This New Year, review beneficiaries for your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments. These designations often override your estate planning, so not only do you need to keep them current, but it is also crucial to discuss them with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to ensure they are appropriately planned for.

3. Focus on your durable power of attorney. Creating a durable power of attorney and ensuring that someone you trust can manage your affairs if you are unable to do so is critical. As life evolves, however, you may need to update your choice of agent to reflect your current situation and relationships.

4. Do not forget your healthcare planning. Healthcare planning, including a living will, is vital. These documents can ensure your wishes regarding medical treatment are followed if you are incapacitated. Regularly reviewing these documents is essential to ensure they align with your current health considerations and wishes.

5. Review real estate holdings. If you own real estate, the New Year is a good time to reassess how it is held and whether it aligns with your current estate planning goals. You will want to consider the implications of holding property jointly, in a trust, or through an LLC. Your experienced Florida estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through this process.

6. Plan for digital assets. In today’s digital age, it is important to include digital assets like social media accounts, online banking, and digital currencies in your estate plan. Be sure you have a plan for these assets and that your executor knows how to access them.

7. Update your plan for tax changes. While it may not be at the top of your to-do list, tax laws change frequently, and it is essential to understand how these changes might impact your estate. When you meet with your experienced estate planning attorney, they can help you navigate these complexities and update your plan accordingly.

8. Check in to make sure your trust is funded. When you have a trust, it is of paramount importance to make sure it is properly funded. Unfunded or underfunded trusts can fail to provide the intended protections and benefits and avoid probate, rendering them ineffective.

9. Making charitable contributions to the causes you care about. If charitable giving is important to you, the New Year is a great time to integrate these wishes into your Florida estate plan. This could include specific bequests in your current estate plan or establishing a charitable trust.

10. Schedule your consultation with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney. Finally, a yearly consultation with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney ensures that your plan is up-to-date, legally compliant, and aligned with your current wishes and life circumstances.

The New Year brings new opportunities to ensure your Florida estate planning is robust and reflective of your current life situation. Taking these steps can provide peace of mind and security for you and your loved ones. Remember, estate planning is not a one-time event but a continuous process that evolves with your life.

We know this topic may raise more questions that it answers and want to help you plan for the future, and the unexpected. Whether you're young and single or a married five-time great grandparent, your voice and wishes need to be known. Worley Elder Law, based in beautiful Bradenton, Florida, focuses on helping you understand your options in designing your Estate Plan or Elder Law needs. Whether it's preventative incapacity planning or establishing your legacy, we will take the time to explain every option and work with you to create a customized plan just as unique as you and your family are. Please do not hesitate to contact us to let us help you.

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