More Reasons not to Delay Estate Planning
Death and dying are nowhere near as fun to think about than planning a vacation, redecorating the house or taking the dog for a walk. In other words, we’re comfortable with any other task or topic. But according to the article, “5 Great Estate Planning Tips for the Rest of Your Life,” from The Street, we need to get past that discomfort.
A 2015 Everplans study found that 69% of Americans say they’ve seriously thought about drafting a will, but just 34% follow through with it. Another 95% of the study participants say that they don't plan well for the handling of their estates due to the lack of knowledge and good financial tools. That’s just an excuse.
There are several "must have" estate planning components you'll need, and some creative components that really help a good estate plan. Keep reading.
Who’s your “Go-To” Guy (or Gal)? Ask yourself who will take care of your estate. This doesn’t have to be your spouse or your children. The next step is to hire an estate planning attorney. This should be someone who specializes in this type of legal work. Just like a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, you need someone with the focused knowledge, skill and experience in this area for this assignment.
Be Flexible. With changing administrations and potential changes to estate tax laws, flexibility is critical in estate planning. Talk with your estate planning attorney when significant changes occur in your life, and create the flexibility in your estate planning documents to account for future changes in tax laws.
Fund Your Trusts. A common estate planning mistake is setting up a revocable living trust and then failing to fund it. A living trust lets someone else manage your financial affairs when you die or in the event you become incapacitated. However, people often will create revocable living trusts, sign the trust documents and then never actually fund the trust with the appropriate assets. You must retitle your investments, bank accounts, and other financial assets from individual or joint accounts into the trust and transfer the deeds for real estate and other real property into the trust. A common misconception is that if it is listed on Schedule A of the trust agreement then it in fact is in the trust. Not true. I see this mistake weekly, and this is why it is imperative to see a specialist, like myself, rather than any attorney.
Life Insurance. Consider whether you need a death benefit to take the place of your income or protect your family if you die prematurely. Death insurance is the ticket, not life insurance. It’s low-cost term life coverage that provides a sufficient death benefit without a cash value. This type of insurance will manage the risk of dying prematurely for a set period of time. That’s it. Cash value life insurance, like whole life or variable life, is much more expensive and not the answer for those that need pure life insurance protection. Ask me for a referral to a Life Insurance agent.
Test Drive Your Power of Attorney. Try out your POA (power of attorney) when you're still healthy to see if it would be accepted by the bank. Each financial institution has its own test for determining a power of attorney’s validity. I cannot tell you how many times that I hear that the bank or financial institution will not accept the Durable Power of Attorney. Fortunately, in Florida, the Power of Attorney Statute addresses this exact issue and can hold a financial institution liable for not accepting a valid Durable Power of Attorney. See Florida Statute 709.2120(5)(a)&(b).
If you don’t have an estate plan in place, now is the time to contact an estate planning attorney like DANIEL T. FLEISCHER, and put these important items in place. Your actions now will make a huge difference for your loved ones when the time comes, whether you want to think about it or not.
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: The Street (February 22, 2017) “5 Great Estate Planning Tips for the Rest of Your Life”