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Don’t Leave These out of Your Will!

05/09/2017

Don’t Leave These Out of Your Will!

When most people think of creating a will, they think about naming an executor (personal representative in Florida), distributing their financial assets and considering whether or not they need to include any tax planning in their estate plan. But there are a few other things you’ll want to be sure to include, according to an article from Philly.com, “5 Things People Forget to Include in Their Will.”

  1. Alternate Beneficiaries. A big item in your estate planning should be to include at least one alternative beneficiary, in case the named beneficiary dies before you or isn’t able to claim under the will. Provide an alternative beneficiary to be sure that the property goes where you want it to go. If you want the inheritance go to your beneficiary's children, you may see the words "per stirpes" by their name, for example, " to my daughter, JANE DOE, per stirpes." This means that if JANE DOE does not survive you it will go to her children. Per stirpes is latin for by the roots.
  2. Personal Property and Family Heirlooms. Some heirlooms can have a great deal of sentimental value, such as holiday ornaments and handmade linens. You can clearly state which family members get which item. You can add a list in your will. However, this can make it hard to add or delete items. A personal property memorandum is a separate document that lists which friends and family members get what personal property. Some states have laws that say if it’s referenced in the will, it’s legally binding. Even if the personal property memorandum isn’t legally binding, it’s helpful for your heirs to avoid confusion and fighting. Another issue that often comes up is that my Mom gave me the ring before she passed away and this is different than what is on the personal property memorandum. Many times I will tell clients that possession is 9/10's of the law.
  3. Digital Assets. What becomes of our digital assets and accounts when we pass away? This is easier said than done, but take these steps to help your family deal with your digital property:
    1. Put together a list of all your online accounts, like e-mail, financial accounts, Facebook, and anywhere online where you conduct business;
    2. List your username and password for each account;
    3. Include access information for your digital devices (such as smart phones and computers); and
    4. Be sure that the agent under your durable power of attorney and the personal representative named in your will and trustee of your trust, have authority to handle your online accounts.
  4. Beloved Companion Pets. Far too many family pets end up in shelters when their owners die and family members can’t or won’t take them into their homes. In certain states, you can now create a pet trust to leave assets to pay for the care of your pet, and you can name a caretaker in your will. Make sure the person agrees to do this, and name an alternative if, for some reason, that person cannot fulfill their duties. Talk with an estate planning attorney who will be able to help you provide for your furry friends.

Do you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties in Florida? Laws are constantly changing-- has your estate plan been reviewed in the last 2-3 years? Call me (954-888-1747) right away for peace of mind. I can help!

  • My practice is exclusively estate planning and probate,
  • I have prepared numerous estate plans in 16 years of practice,
  • I have administered estates and trusts through Probate all over Florida,
  • I am a Certified Financial Planner Professional™, and
  • I am here for YOU today and there for your FAMILY tomorrow.

Reference: Philly.com (September 2, 2015) “5 Things People Forget to Include in Their Will”

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