There is literally never a better time for you to create your estate plan. August is National Make-A-Will Month! Who knew? Why not celebrate by creating an estate plan.
A Will is one of several documents in a recommended individualized estate plan. It is important that you work with a lawyer experienced in estate planning to be sure your estate plan covers certain major issues, including but not limited to:
- Who do you want to be the Personal Representative (“PR”) of your estate? The PR is in charge of carrying out your directions and wishes as expressed in the Will. The PR will also pay any outstanding debts and distribute assets as you express in the document.
- Who do you want to be the legal guardians for your minor children until they become adults (age 18), if something were happen to you?
- What do you want done with both your tangible and intangible property?
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have a clearly written estate plan. Leaving your family and friends without a valid Will in place can result in confusion as to who is to be the proper guardian of your minor children, can result in descendants of yours receiving assets from your estate which you may not have intended them to be the beneficiary of and often further results in litigation.
Without a Will, the probate court is forced to name a Personal Representative (a/k/a an executor) of your Estate and there is the possibility that the appointed individual is not who you would have chosen. Why let someone else decide who has control over distributing your Estate when you can make that choice yourself?
A Gallup poll taken in 2015 indicated that only forty-four (44) percent of Americans say they have a Will that describes how they would like their money and estate handled after their death. Therefore, if you already have a Will (and other necessary estate planning documents) you are better prepared for the inevitable than over one-half of Americans. Yet, just because you created an estate plan at one point does not mean that it keeps up with your life changes (or that it is valid in the state your reside).
While estate plans never expire, for your Will to be most effective it needs to be reviewed at least semi-annually and updated as needed. Common scenarios for estate plan revisions can be any major life event such as: a death in the family, change in marital status, birth of a child, major changes in financial situation, and moving out of state. Your estate plan should also be updated as your goals change. For example, you may want to alter the amounts of inheritance or increase/decrease charitable bequests.
Let’s celebrate National Make-A-Will Month together! Call me to set up a conference to discuss your estate planning needs.
Jason Steinman, Esq.
213 East Sheridan Street, Suite 3
Dania Beach, Florida 33004