If you have yet to create an estate plan, there is no time like the present to get started. Like many people, you may have put off estate planning because it can appear to be a daunting task. To help you feel more comfortable with the idea of creating your plan, a Florida estate planning attorney at Kulas & Crawford offers some estate planning tips.
- Define your goals. When most people think about estate planning, they immediately think about the distribution of their assets upon death. While this may be one of your estate planning goals, you probably have additional goals as well. For example, if you have a child with specials needs you will want to include special needs planning in your plan. If you are concerned about threats to your assets, asset protection should be a goal. Larger estates also need to worry about the impact of taxes on the estate as well as including probate avoidance strategies to limit the time and money spent on the probate of the estate.
- List your assets and liabilities. You probably have a general idea of what your net worth is and how much you owe in debts and liabilities; however, for the purpose of estate planning you need to know your assets and liabilities in great detail. Sit down and make a list of all assets, including as much additional information about each asset as possible. Do the same of all debts and liabilities.
- Take some time to consider who you need to provide for in your plan. For the most part, you probably already know who your beneficiaries will be and who you wish to provide for in your estate plan; however, when you sit down and think about it you may find that the list is longer than you initially thought. Don’t forget to include charities and family pets in your list if applicable.
- Remember to include incapacity planning. A well thought out and comprehensive estate plan doesn’t just plan for the possibility of your death. It should also contemplate the possibility of your incapacity. Incapacity is not limited to the elderly. On the contrary you stand about a one in five chance of suffering a period of incapacity lasting at least five months or longer during your working years. If incapacity does strike, you want to be sure you decide ahead of time who will control your assets and who will make personal and medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.
- Try to be realistic and pragmatic. Estate planning can become very emotional; however, you should try to keep your emotions out of it to the extent possible. For example, when deciding who to appoint as the Executor of your estate, make sure you appoint the person who is most qualified instead of appointing a spouse out of a sense of obligation. Likewise, if you have a beneficiary that simply doesn’t handle money well for any reason, do not feel obligated to include direct gifts to him/her in your plan. Instead, consider using a trust to pass down the beneficiary’s inheritance.
- Consider including a funeral planning component. For most people, just the idea of planning their own funeral is difficult to contemplate. While this is understandable, there are several reasons why you should tackle it anyway. For one thing, you may have strong feelings about how your body should be handled after your death and the only way you can be assured your wishes will be honored is to include a funeral planning component in your estate plan. Additionally, by planning things yourself, you remove the stress of having to do so from your loved ones who will be grieving at the time and may not be thinking clearly.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney
To learn more, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about estate planning, please contact an experienced Florida estate planning attorney at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule a consultation.