A well-structured estate plan should be a priority in everyone’s life. Unfortunately, many people think only millionaires should have an estate plan in place. Yet, they could not be more wrong.
An estate consists of all assets owned by a person, including real property, vehicles, bank accounts, trust property, etc. An estate plan is fundamental to protect these assets and safeguard them for their respective heirs and beneficiaries.
In this article, you will find out a checklist to design an ideal estate planning strategy.
What is a Florida Estate Plan? – Back to Basics
Although it may be an overlooked aspect of life, having an estate plan in place guarantees wealth preservation and a smooth succession process, avoiding probate, disputes among family members, and other unpleasant situations.
Primarily, the goal of a well-structured estate plan is to protect your assets. Much more than detailing the distribution of assets upon your passing, an estate plan preserves the value of your property, minimizing taxes and other liabilities as much as possible.
Most importantly, estate planning allows you to create a legacy and guarantee it will be carried out upon your passing as you envisioned.
Estate Planning Checklist Florida – The Essentials
Finding an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Before creating an estate plan, it is crucial to sit down with an estate planning attorney. A legal expert will have your case assessed to tailor strategies according to your goals and circumstances. Throughout the process, an estate planning attorney will ensure legal compliance and avoid potential issues by:
- Properly drafting documents (e.g., trust agreements, powers of attorney, etc.)
- Handling documents and contracts
- Using dispute resolution methods to mitigate friction (e.g., family disputes)
- Preventing lawsuits
- Providing precise advice and guidance
Assessing the Estate and Identifying Goals
It is impossible to structure an estate plan without knowing what you want to accomplish. While some people may want to preserve wealth for the next generation, others may want to leave their property for charity. Some individuals have minor children, while others are unmarried and childless.
As it is plain to see, different people have distinct goals, which will certainly affect the direction of an estate planning strategy.
Preparing a Thorough Inventory
After identifying the goals and assessing the estate, it is time to prepare a detailed inventory listing all your assets and liabilities. This in-depth list must include every asset titled in your name or under your ownership, either tangible or intangible assets.
In this sense, you must include real property, cars, land plots, bank accounts, property deeds, student loans, 401(k) accounts, IRA accounts, insurance policies, etc.
Creating the Structure and Determining the Individuals Involved
Once you have identified all your assets, the next step is to create the structure of your estate plan. It is crucial noting that an estate plan is not effective unless you document everything perfectly. Several legal tools and documents are useful within an estate planning strategy, including:
- Last will and testament
- Trusts (living trusts, irrevocable trusts, land trusts, etc.)
- Powers of Attorney
- Living will
- Guardianship designations
- POD/TOD accounts
Then, it is time to designate who will participate in your estate plan, such as beneficiaries, trustees, guardians, executors, and other important roles. It is fundamental to select only reliable individuals to occupy administrative and governance-related roles, such as trustees, guardians, and executors.
Work with an Expert Attorney to Design the Perfect Estate Plan
Structuring the ideal estate plan should not leave you overwhelmed. With a decade of experience helping clients with estate planning, Attorney Romy B. Jurado has the answers you are looking for.