If you already have an estate plan, you have taken an important step toward getting your affairs in order and protecting your family. However, your work is not done. An effective estate plan requires you to make changes as your needs and those of your family change over time. As a result, you should periodically review all aspects of your estate plan to ensure that they reflect your current needs and make any necessary updates.
A Florida estate planning lawyer from Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum P.A. stands ready to help you review your estate plan from time to time and suggest any critical changes for you to consider. Contact our office today to schedule a time to meet with us and discuss your ongoing estate planning needs, concentrating on the following six elements of your estate plan.
- Beneficiary Designations – You should periodically review your assets with beneficiary designations to remind yourself who you have designated as your primary and secondary beneficiary. These assets may include life insurance policies, annuities, pensions, retirement plans, and payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts. If your relationship with a designated beneficiary has changed over time due to divorce, separation, or estrangement, you might consider changing your chosen beneficiary. Likewise, if one of your beneficiaries has passed away, you should choose an alternate beneficiary as needed.
- Ownership of Your Assets – Be sure to periodically take stock of your assets and ensure that your ownership of them will make it easy for your surviving family members to access them upon your death. You also should take advantage of strategies to avoid the costs and delays inherent in the probate administration process when possible. For example, you may want to own some assets jointly with your spouse or have an attorney-in-fact authorized to handle those accounts. In addition, if you already have a trust in place, you might consider whether you have accumulated new assets for which you need to transfer ownership to the trust.
- The Effects of Major Life Changes – As time goes on, you will likely experience major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, death, or the birth or adoption of children. All these changes may necessitate changes in your estate plan. For instance, you may need to add or eliminate a spouse from your estate plan documents, including your will, trust, and advance directives. You may need to incorporate a new child into your will or trust or designate a preferred guardian for a child. By examining your estate plan closely at regular intervals, you can help ensure that it adequately covers all aspects of your current situation and provides for all your immediate family members.
- Buying or Selling a Business – If you purchase, open, close, or sell a business, your financial circumstances likely have undergone major changes. You can use your estate plan to decide how to handle an existing business and its assets or the proceeds from the sale of a business. For instance, if you own a business at the time of your death, you can outline your wishes for the succession of the business, including who should receive your ownership share and who should take over the day-to-day business operations. You can also take steps in your estate plan to prevent potential business creditors from reaching your assets.
- Changes in Your Health – If you have experienced a debilitating health condition or diagnosis of a terminal medical condition, you may need to make difficult decisions about your health care and decision-making capabilities in the future. For example, if you have not done so already, you should execute a power of attorney for finances, designate a health care surrogate, and complete a living will.
- Changes in the Law – Federal and state laws do change over time, and, as a result, your estate plan can quickly become dated. Major changes in the laws that impact certain estate planning documents could invalidate portions of your estate plan. Likewise, as assets and accounts become increasingly digital, you may want to update your estate plan to give your loved ones easier access to those assets and accounts. Since these digital formats simply didn’t exist a decade ago, your estate planning documents likely didn’t account for their existence.
Contact Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum P.A. to Update Your Estate Plan
A Florida estate planning attorney can provide the services you need to create and periodically update the comprehensive estate plan that best meets your needs. In addition, we can help you take the steps necessary to help your surviving family members avoid the costs and delays inherent in probate administration. Nonetheless, should probate proceedings become necessary, we also offer the full range of probate services.
We have the experience you need when working through complex legal problems while grieving the loss of a loved one. First, call us at (954) 966-2112 or learn more about our legal services online. Then, schedule an appointment to speak with us about your legal needs immediately.