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What Happens When an Estate Plan is out of Date?


What Happens When an Estate Plan is Out of Date?

Many people wait almost two decades between the time that they first have an estate plan created and when they get around to updating it, including my own parents!!! That’s about the time between having young children and when the kids grow up and leave home. The next time the will is updated is when the couple retires, followed by when the first spouse passes. However, there are other times in life when a will really needs to be updated.

The (Port Huron) Times-Herald says in its recent article, “Why you should update your estate plan,” that there are many reasons to update your estate plan. There are both financial and non-financial personal reasons. There are births, deaths, disabilities, weddings, divorces and retirements. These are all reasons to update your plan. There are also changes in the laws impacting estate plans.

The basics. At a minimum, your essential estate planning documents are a will, a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. Some people also benefit from a trust.

Your financial and health care powers of attorney are combined. In many states, the health care power of attorney statute is separate and distinct from the financial power of attorney statute. Each of them has different requirements, such as when they become effective and who can be a witness. There are different documents to be signed by your financial and health care agents. If you don’t have separate financial and health care powers of attorney, speak with an experienced estate planner like DANIEL T FLEISCHER who will prepare your estate plan legally and properly.

Your power of attorney doesn’t have to have a signed acknowledgment or acceptance by your agent. In some states, your financial agents in your financial power of attorney are required to sign a one or two-page statutory acknowledgment form that they’re acting on your behalf. This is not the law in Florida.

Your health care power of attorney doesn’t include these provisions:

  • Patient Advocate: Appoint a patient advocate and two backups to make medical and mental health care decisions when you are unable to do so.
  • Mental health care powers: This allows your patient advocate to make mental health care decisions, such as those concerning dementia, anxiety, or depression.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Appoint your patient advocate as your HIPAA representative so they have access to your medical records, can speak with your health care providers and sign releases of those records to other health care or insurance providers.
  • An anatomical gift or organ donation: You can include this as a power for your patient advocate.
  • Living will provision: the instructions that you have for when to withhold or withdraw artificial means of life support at end-of-life.

Your trust isn’t fully funded. If you have a trust, it should be fully funded now while you’re alive and well, not after you are gone, and your beneficiaries are using the probate court process. It involves putting your titled assets in the name of the trust or naming your trust as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.

Reviewing estate planning documents every four years or so is a good way to be sure that your plan still achieves your overall goals, including maintaining control of assets while you are alive, preparing for yourself and loved ones should you become incapacitated and making sure that when you do pass, that you’re your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

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! Please visit for valuable information.

  • 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 (Port Huron) Times-Herald (June 30, 2017) “Why you should update your estate plan”

Why would we recommend D.T.F.? Several Reasons: Your ability to explain complex estate problems, clearly and patiently; your total lack of arrogance and pretense; a strong feeling that you are motivated by what you perceive is best for your client, rather than what would generate the largest legal fees; finally, and importantly, you are a lovely guy. A.C.

Two words cannot sum up the entire process of creating my “trust.” I enjoyed your attention to detail, your patience of explaining terms and conditions until I understood, also giving me copies to read and understand. Thank you for your suggestions on what was best for “me” but still allowing me to make my choice. Most of all, thank you for thinking of “me.” Wells Fargo said “you were the best” I cannot deny that. Again thank you very much for everything. Anna is an asset or a compliment to the firm. She is warm and very caring. It was great doing business. Thank you.