You are undoubtedly aware that you need to start thinking about inheritance planning. In fact, you should probably already have an estate plan in place; yet, you have continued to put it off for one reason or another. You are not alone. Despite admitting to knowing how important inheritance planning is, over half of all Americans have yet to create a comprehensive estate plan. One of the primary reasons given for failing to have a plan in place is that inheritance planning is confusing. It can even become downright intimidating for the average person given all the decisions that must be made and what is riding on those decisions. While it is certainly true that estate planning can become somewhat complicated when large, complex estates are involved, the average estate plan is something the average person can understand. Once you have a better understanding of how Florida inheritance planning works you will likely find you are ready to get started on your plan.
What Is Inheritance Planning?
The term “inheritance planning” can encompass a broad range of concepts; however, all of them are related to the distribution of your assets upon your death. Inheritance planning centers around the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. Your estate plan, in turn, may have your Last Will and Testament as its foundation; however, a well thought out estate plan typically includes much more than just a Will.
Steps to Creating Your Estate Plan
As mentioned earlier, one of the most common reasons why people don’t have an estate plan in place yet is because they don’t know where to start. With that in mind, the following steps should help simply matters and get your estate plan started.
- Make a list of all your assets and debts. You may think you know how much you are worth; however, once everything is down on paper you may be surprised. Imagine, for a moment, that you died tomorrow. What would your estate look like? List everything you own, or in which you have an ownership interest. The list all your debts. These lists will be essential when you actually create your estate plan.
- Consider who your beneficiaries will be. For some people this will be a short list while for others it may be an extensive list. Don’t forget to include less obvious beneficiaries such as charities or the family pet. You should also spend some time thinking about how much of your estate will go to each beneficiary. If you are married, do you want your spouse to have the entire estate with the understanding that he/she will pass it on to the children upon his/her death or do you want your children to inherit directly from your estate?
- Calculate how much it will take to provide for a spouse and/or children. There are numerous websites with various formulas that can be used to help you determine how much you need to leave behind to take care of your family. Use two or three of these and settle on a middle of the road figure. Once you know how much you will need, compare that to your net worth as determined in step one. If there is a significant difference, consider adding additional life insurance to your estate plan.
- Decide how you want to gift assets. Your estate planning attorney will help you with the details; however, to get started you need to think about big issues such as whether you want to gift assets in a lump sum or as staggered payments. You may also want to make a list of specific bequests you wish to make that may include things such as family heirlooms, collectibles, or personal items that have sentimental value.
- Choose an experienced estate planning attorney. By now you should be feeling a bit more in control and a bit less intimidated by the idea of inheritance planning. Now you are ready to find an experienced estate planning attorney to work with you on the creation of your actual estate plan. Your estate planning attorney will help you create an estate plan that is unique to your needs and goals and will ensure that all your wishes are honored in your plan.
If you have additional questions about how to get started with your Florida inheritance plan, please contact the experienced inheritance planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford. by calling 772-398-0720 to schedule an appointment.