When you are sick, at the end of your life, or passed on, the last thing you want is your loved ones dealing with a mess. Planning now will be a gift to those who matter most. Here are four reasons why you need to make your Estate Plan legal:
- When you don’t plan you don’t choose. When you pass away without a Will or Trust, the Florida Statutes determine who will receive your assets. For example, if you are not married and don’t have children, everything goes to your parents, if they are still alive. What if you are in a long term relationship? Do you want your partner to get nothing? If you are in a long term relationship with the parent of your child, everything will go to your child and nothing will go to your partner. Is that what you want? Planning allows you to make that important choice.
- Guardianships for the assets of children are not ideal. Children can inherit money in different ways. When you pass away without a Will or Trust, your children receive their share outright, with no rules. If they are under the age of 18, the court appoints a Guardian to manage their money. The guardian must report to the court every time they need money to support the child. Also, the Guardian is limited to what they can use the money for. For example, if your child inherits the proceeds of a $250,000 Life Insurance Policy through your employer, the Guardian may not be able to use that money to pay for food and shelter for that child. Fortunately, Estate Planning allows you to plan around this.
- Planning prevents fighting. Give your loved ones plans to follow. Estate Planning documents often prevent fighting about who will serve and what you want. For example, do you want to be kept alive on machines while your family fights? Make it legal so no one ends up in court spending time and money fighting over your wishes.
- Life changes and so should your plan. It is great if you already have a plan. However, it is important to review your plan with an Attorney every 3-5 years. There will be changes in life and the law and your documents should reflect those changes. Changes need to be formalized to be effective. Writing on the documents can create huge problems and signed letters are not valid. Reviewing your plan with an Attorney is just as important as making one.
Gift yourself some peace of mind and plan now. Call our office at 407-574-8125 to schedule an appointment with an attorney to get your affairs in order.
Are you a first responder? In honor of National First Responder’s Day on October 28, 2019, first responders receive 10% off of Estate Planning services during the month of October. Schedule your appointment now.
This post contributed by Erica Berger-Hausthor, Attorney, Family First Firm.