Did you know estate planning is the process whereby you both express who should care for you in the event of your disability and also to determine who will receive your property when you die? It is always advisable that you clarify your estate plan in writing through an enforceable last will and testament or a trust agreement.
What you may not realize, however, is that if you have no written estate plan, the Florida legislature has an estate plan for you. This is through what is referred to as intestacy laws. These are rigid rules for distribution of your property by what the legislature thinks you would have wanted for your property distribution when you die. Although the intestacy laws may reflect what you want, it is best practice for you to develop an enforceable written plan for distributing your property according to your goals and objectives.
Most people have at one time or another established a simplified estate plan through a last will and testament. Few people, however, take into account that many of their assets will not be distributed according to their will but instead by bank accounts they jointly own with a spouse or a relative. Often, the distributions provided for by can go unfunded because the funds are distributed instead to who is designated as the owner on the jointly owned bank accounts.
It is critical that a person meets with an estate planning attorney to insure that the property he or she worked a lifetime to earn can be distributed at death to the person intended to receive the asset. The estate planning attorney may first help the client by listing the assets and examining the ownership and beneficiaries of these stocks, bonds, and bank accounts. Also, the attorney will want to confirm the beneficiary not only on these accounts but also for IRAs, insurance policies, and annuities.
Once the client’s assets and the beneficiaries are confirmed, the attorney may need for the client to sign letters to banks, stock companies, or IRA custodians to insure that specific assets are able to pass at death to the intended beneficiary. The attorney may need to also assist the client with the drafting and signing of an enforceable trust to protect the client’s family members who may be young or vulnerable to exploitation.
We know this is information can be hard to understand, and even harder to apply to y9our unique situation. We encourage you not to put off this important planning. Gather your questions and do not wait to contact our law practice to schedule a meeting with attorney Anne’ Desormier-Cartwright.