Creating an estate plan, including a will, can help save your family a lot of heartaches should something happen to you. However, when you retain an estate planning attorney to help you create your estate plan, you can significantly minimize these errors. However, an attorney can only go by the information you tell her. If you forget to mention an asset, the attorney won’t know to put it in the will.
If you are ready to create an estate plan, contact the probate attorneys at France Law Firm for a consultation today. The attorney will give you a worksheet to fill out that tells her what information is required to create your estate plan. When completing the worksheet, keep these mistakes in mind so you can try to avoid them.
Plan for Life and Death – Not Only Death
Most people believe that a will only addresses what happens after you die. However, preparation should also include advanced directives that tell your family and doctors what to do should you become incapacitated because of an accident or a disease, such as dementia.
Don’t Forget About Beneficiaries
While your will transfers assets after your death, some beneficiary designations trump a will. Those include beneficiaries on insurance policies and financial accounts. Don’t name someone as the new owner of an account when you have a different beneficiary on the account.
Don’t put your burial wishes in your will. Often, these documents aren’t read until after your funeral. Write a separate letter to your family, and make sure you tell them verbally what you want. Also, be sure that more than one person knows where you put the letter or give it to several close relatives with instructions to open it on your death.
Don’t forget about your digital life. Leave instructions on how to access your digital accounts so that someone can retrieve your digital photos and close the accounts before your credentials fall into the wrong hands.
Elderly Relatives and Friends
Make sure that your wishes don’t tromp on other’s finances. You might want to leave cash to someone on government benefits, but those benefits could disappear if they get an infusion of money or valuable assets. However, if the cash or assets are not enough to support the person, he or she could lose those benefits.
Don’t Rely on Others’ Statements
Your children and other relatives might tell you to leave your estate to one or more people and leave out others because they are getting an inheritance from another relative. Never rely on this information as that might not be true – and you would end up cutting loved ones out of what you want for the benefit of those who made the “misstatement.”
Know What is in Your Will
Make sure you know what is in your will. If relatives draw up a new one and ask you to sign it in the hopes that you won’t read it or won’t understand it, they could change your wishes without you knowing. The only way that would be caught is if the wrong-doers do not include another person and that person disputes the will. Always take documents that another person had drafted for you to your estate probate attorneys.
Naming the Wrong Person as Your Executor
The executor of your will pays any debts you owe and disperses your assets. However, this should be a person that you trust. If the executor is not up to the task or abuses your trust, it could create a big mess for your heirs. Make sure the person you name will not misappropriate your assets for his or her personal gain and that the person will follow your wishes.
If you have minor children or adult children who need life-long care, be sure to name a guardian for them. You should name a second guardian in the event that the first person cannot become a guardian or dies before you.
Don’t miss any assets. Take your time listing your assets. If you forget an asset, it will have to go through probate and become subject to Florida’s probate laws for distribution.
Finally, do not forget to update your will. If you buy or sell assets, someone named dies, someone has a new baby, or other life events happen, you will need to update your documents. Many like to put it off, but should something unexpected happen to you, the court will go by your current will.
Contact France Law Firm
If you are ready to create a will and estate plan or need to update a current estate plan, contact France Law for a consultation.