For those Florida residents who have jumped out ahead of the curve and have an estate plan in place, all of the work is not permanently wrapped up. Estate planning is an organic process, and it will be necessary to review the plan with the attorney approximately every three years. When a tax law changes, its impact must be compared to the existing terms of one's plan so that updates can be made if necessary. In addition, there are several other reasons to review periodically the continuing accuracy and efficacy of one's plan.
Younger adults with children are prime candidates for developing an estate plan under Florida law. The adult parents will be concerned about what can happen to the children if the parents die before the children reach adulthood. This may be even more pressing where one or more of the children may have special estate planning needs to provide for.
In Florida, it is generally easy and convenient to leave funds or other assets to charitable organizations. Many people believe that they cannot afford to give to their favorite charity without upsetting the other bequests to their family and friends. That is generally a false presumption because there are various tax benefits for charitable gifts that may possibly make up for any loss in one's corpus. The best way to see what can be afforded and how to set it up is to meet with one's estate planning attorney and, if needed, a qualified financial planning expert.
Parents of minor children in Florida will benefit by consulting with an estate planning attorney to determine the best measure of protection for the children in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Estate planning for minor children is very important for several reasons. The parents can each include a provision designating who will serve as guardian of the children if both parents are deceased. Thankfully, this happens rarely, but it is best to prepare so that the children are not put through additional stress and uncertainty in the event of a crisis.
People may tend to confuse a health care proxy with a living will. They are two different legal instruments in estate planning that produce two distinctly separate outcomes. Each state, including Florida, will have statutory rules that define the requirements of each of these, but in general most states will achieve the same outcome with little real deviation.
The benefits of estate planning for Florida residents cannot be overstated. In some instances, tax burdens can be reduced. Probate fees may be lowered or even eliminated. Importantly, the empowerment that one derives from having prepared an estate planning framework for precisely how things will work after death is usually very gratifying.
Making an estate plan in Florida and elsewhere includes the task of choosing a number of agents and surrogates who are called upon to make decisions and take action on one's behalf when incapacitated or after death. The persons appointed within the potential scope of estate planning can include an agent under a power of attorney or a health care power, trustees, executors, beneficiaries under various accounts, legal instruments and insurance policies, in addition to other surrogates. One problem that arises is the appointment of persons simply because they are family members.
Estate planning is an important task for most Florida residents, although many of them do not get around to starting or completing that task. The process is designed to protect one's assets while alive, provide for financial survival if one becomes incapacitated, and to distribute assets to the desired loved ones and/or organizations upon death. Other benefits of estate planning include health care proxies and powers that make it easier for one's health care to be directed by a loved one and for instructions to medical providers.
A majority of Americans, including here in Florida, do not have a will or basic estate planning essentials. Part of the reason is the apparent urban legend that says estate planning is solely for those wealthy individuals who have substantial assets. Many people, however, forget about their family home, which can be a significant asset if the mortgage is paid down or paid off. In that event, estate planning can prevent the common discord that sometimes occurs between heirs after the parent or family member dies.
Florida residents pay attention to tax issues, and like people elsewhere, they tend to believe that tax planning is the main reason for making an estate plan. The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 continued the trend in recent years to increase the exemptions available under the federal estate taxes. Most people will therefore have no federal estate tax burden going forward once the new law becomes effective. Some people believe that this fact eliminates the need for estate planning but that is simply untrue.