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Estate planning


Florida estate planning is the creation of legal documents that dictate what happens to your family and property. Some documents will be effective during your lifetime, while others take effect after your death.

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Over 30 years of combined legal experience




A comprehensive Estate plan includes important legal directives:


Revocable Trust

Irrevocable Trust


Living Will

Health Designation

A well-constructed succession plan can help ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries receive assets in a way that manages and minimizes estate taxes, gift taxes, and other tax impacts.

Estate Planning Checklist 

Create an inventory

Outline your family's needs

Set your own guidelines

Review your beneficiaries

Consider applicable federal and state tax laws and their impact on your estate

Access your estate documents every three to five years or when a life-changing event occurs


1. Create an inventory

You might think you don’t have enough to justify estate planning, but you might be surprised at how much you really own. An inventory is a good way to track your tangible and intangible assets.

Material assets might include:

  • Homes, land, or other real estate.
  • Vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, or boats.
  • Collectibles like coins, art, antiques, or trading cards.
  • Other personal possessions.

Intangible assets could include:

  • Checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit.
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Retirement plans like 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).
  • Health savings accounts.
  • Business ownership.

You’ll also want to list any outstanding liabilities you might have. This could include mortgages, lines of credit, or other debts you haven’t paid off yet. Keeping a written list of your outstanding obligations will make it easier for an estate executor

to notify creditors in the event of your death.

2. Consider your family’s needs

Once you have an idea of what’s in your estate, think about how to protect those assets and your family after you’re gone. Family needs to consider might include:

Minor children – Who will take care of your child if you're physically or mentally incapacitated? Who will take care of your child and raise them if you die? Do you have a person you would like to take care of your children?

Spouse or child with special needs – Who will take care of your child if you're physically or mentally incapacitated? Who will take care of your child and raise them if you die? Do you have a person or organization you would like to take care of your child? Will they lose their government benefits if they inherit a large sum of money or assets?

Blended Families - Will your children inherit something if you pass away, or will it go to your partner? Will all your partner's children inherit? How can you ensure that your assets are properly designed for your children upon your death?

3. Establish your directives

A comprehensive estate plan includes important legal directives.

A revocable trust might be appropriate. With a revocable living trust, you place your assets in a trust and select a trustee to manage the assets for your benefit (and that of your beneficiaries). If you become sick or incapacitated, the chosen trustee can take over. Upon your death, trust assets are transferred to your designated beneficiaries, bypassing probate, which is the court process that would otherwise distribute your property. There's also the option of setting up an irrevocable trust, which cannot be changed or revoked by the creator.

A living will, also known as an advance directive, outlines your medical care wishes if you can't make those decisions yourself. You can also grant a medical durable power of attorney to someone you trust for your medical decisions, giving that person the authority to make decisions if you can't. These two documents are sometimes combined into one, known as an advance health care directive.

A durable financial power of attorney allows someone else to handle your financial affairs if you're medically unable to do so. Your designated agent, as indicated in the document, can act on your behalf in legal and financial situations when you can't. This includes paying your bills and taxes as well as accessing and managing your assets.

A limited power can be helpful if the idea of handing everything over to someone else concerns you. This legal document does exactly what its name says: It imposes limits on the powers of your named representative. For instance, you might give the person the power to sign documents on your behalf at a home closing or to sell a specific stock.

4. Review beneficiaries

Your will and other documents might spell out your wishes, but they might not have everything covered.

Review your retirement accounts and insurance. Retirement plans and insurance products typically have beneficiary designations that you need to track and update as needed. Those beneficiary designations typically override what's in a will.

Make sure the right people get your stuff. People sometimes forget about beneficiaries they named on policies or accounts established years ago. If, for example, your ex-spouse remains a beneficiary on your life insurance policy, your current spouse might not receive any payout from the policy after you die.

Don't leave any beneficiary sections blank. If you do, when an account goes through probate, it might be distributed according to your state's rules.

Name of contingent beneficiaries. These backup beneficiaries are crucial if your primary beneficiary dies before you and you forget to update the primary beneficiary designation.

5. Consider state inheritance tax laws

Estate planning is often a way to minimize estate and inheritance taxes. But most people don’t pay those taxes. However, it’s important to assess the size of your estate. Some of the things to consider are: your residence, investment taxes, business taxes, among others. Having a trusted professional to guide you is crucial for the estate planning process.

6. Plan de reevaluación

Life changes. Just like your estate plan. It’s recommended that you conduct an assessment of your estate documents every three to five years.

Review your plan when circumstances change, for better or worse. This can include marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, getting a new job or being laid off.

Periodically review your estate plan even if your circumstances don't change. While your situation might be the same, the laws could have changed. The recommended timeframe is every three to five years.

It will take a bit of effort to review your plan, but take heart. The need to review means you've already avoided the biggest estate planning mistake: never creating a plan at all.

Call Nater, better late than never!

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