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Estate Planning Essentials Everyone Should Know

Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 1:40PM

Estate Planning Essentials Everyone Should Know

Estate planning is no easy task. For many, just getting started can be overwhelming and emotionally-taxing. Yet a sound estate plan is essential to ensuring your or a loved one’s wishes are accurately carried out in the event of incapacitation or death.

Effective planning follows a step process. Once you’re aware of the steps — and with assistance from a qualified estate planning attorney — your plan will come together in no time. Here’s how to get started:

Prepare and Create Personal Documents

As you begin the process, it’s important to have all necessary information in one place. Printed (“hard copy”) documents are preferable over those stored on a USB device or by other digital means (cloud computing).

At the least, your estate plan should include the following:

  • a will detailing your desires for distribution of physical and financial assets. Include an appointed personal representative. If you have children under the age of 18, you should name a guardian for them.
  • a power of attorney, which is a trusted person authorized to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
  • advanced directives, which details end-of-life preferences.
  • health care surrogate, enabling the release and discussion of your medical information and treatment, and the power to make your medical decisions.
  • up-to-date beneficiaries. Life circumstances often change. Marriage, divorce, untimely death of a loved one, new children and grandchildren, and other factors affect the status of your beneficiaries.

During this process, it’s also wise to ensure you have adequate life insurance, particularly if you have minor children (under the age of 18) or others who depend on you financially to survive. According to the American Insurance Association (AIA), it’s best to have life insurance that equals ten times your annual salary. 

Discuss and Detail Your Wishes

Make sure your family members and loved ones are aware of your intentions. Also inform a trusted individual where they can locate your important documents in the event of your incapacitation or death. In times of crisis, forcing loved ones to sift through minutiae to locate the information they seek is detrimental to efficiently carrying out your final wishes.  

The following information should be kept in one easily-accessible location:

  • mortgage documents
  • tax returns
  • insurance policies
  • investment information
  • Social Security and health insurance cards
  • contact information for doctors, accountants, and attorneys

You may also wish to set up a trust. There are many reasons why doing so is a good idea. Speak with your knowledgeable Daytona Beach estate planning attorney to determine if including a trust is the right option for you.

In addition, it’s wise to review designations (as well as the entire package of estate planning details) at least once every two years. However, life updates (marriage, divorce, birth of children or grandchildren, death of a loved one) should be made immediately.

Ask Questions and Get Assistance

Establishing a comprehensive estate plan doesn’t have to be a daunting or overwhelming task. While it’s possible to create and compile much of the material mentioned on your own, securing the services of a qualified Daytona Beach estate planning attorney will provide you with valuable assistance and peace of mind.

Offering nearly four decades of expertise in estate planning and real estate law, we provide legal service with honesty, integrity, and compassion. Contact us today to get started on your unique estate plan.



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