Florida Estate Planning and Probate Law Blog focused on recent case law and planning ideas.

COMMON FLORIDA ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES


Most individuals, despite the best of intentions, fail to put their Florida estate affairs in order prior to death or incapacity. Without proper planning a Florida residents best intentions will not be enough to accomplish their Florida estate planning objectives. As a result, the ultimate distribution of their Florida probate assets will be pursuant to the Florida Statutes. The following list is the most common Florida estate planning mistakes made by Florida residents: 

Failing to plan. The biggest mistake is failing to create a Florida estate plan. Without a Florida estate plan, the Florida Statutes will determine where your assets will be distributed at death. This is probably not what you want to happen to your assets. In addition, without a Florida estate plan, you have no method to name a guardian for minor children or who will act for you if you become incapacitated.

Doing it yourself.  You will be disappointed if you believe that you will save money by using a do-it-yourself online estate planning preparation service or by writing your own documents. Poorly drafted Florida estate planning documents documents will only cost you or your heirs additional money when they are needed most. The problems created by not getting competent Florida legal advice will not be borne by the person creating the Florida estate planning documents but their children and grandchildren. 

Not planning for disability. A properly drafted Florida estate plan will specify what will happen to your assets when you become incapacitated. It is important to have documents, such as a power of attorney and health care proxy, that appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf if you can't act for yourself.  

Not checking your beneficiary designations. You should periodically review your insurance policy and retirement plan beneficiary designations to make sure they correct. Insurance and retirement accounts do not follow your Will or Revocable Trust and are distributed according to the forms you fill out with creating the account. You need to make sure you have named a beneficiary and the beneficiary is who you want it to be.

Not reviewing the plan. Once you have created a Florida estate plan it is important to keep it up to date. Circumstances change over time and your estate plan needs to keep up with these changes. Major changes that may affect your plan include getting married or divorced, having children, or experiencing an increase or decrease in assets. Even if you don't have any major changes, you should review your plan periodically to make sure it still expresses your wishes.

For more information on updating your plan,