Did you know that Estate Planning Awareness Week is recognized in October? No matter your age or how much money you have, estate planning can be an important part of your financial health. Estate planning is critical for Florida residents who want to ensure their wishes are respected in the event of temporary incapacitation or upon their death. Knowing the uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, having an estate plan in place provides security and peace of mind. Also, regularly updating what you have put in place can help ensure that security and peace of mind will continue.
Estate planning may be simple or complex, depending on your age, marital and parental status, and what kind of assets you have. For most people, creating a will, choosing a power of attorney and health care surrogate, and designating specific beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts are what they want to protect the future they desire for themselves and their loved ones.
The first step is often writing a last will and testament. You decide to whom you would like to leave any assets, how to divide your estate, and whether you want to set up a trust that would allow your spouse or partner to live comfortably while preserving assets for children and grandchildren. It is also important to designate specific account beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts, and make sure the beneficiary you have chosen is in line with your will.
A power of attorney can allow you to choose someone to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. If durable, this power will survive, even in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare surrogate will allow you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose a trusted loved one to fill both roles or choose two different people who may be better suited to one or the other. The important part is that, by planning ahead now, you get to make your own choices.
Remember, it is very important to check in regularly with your estate plan and to make any changes that may be necessary due to life events, changes in law, or under other circumstances. Also, regularly updating your account beneficiaries ensures they are in line with what you have in your will and broader estate plan.
This Estate Planning Awareness Week, take the time to learn more about the importance of estate planning and the steps you need to take in order to establish a strong estate plan. In times of great uncertainty, an estate plan can bring much needed peace. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.