VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Steps to creating an estate plan

Most Florida adults should create an estate plan, but they might be overwhelmed by the idea and not know where to start. However, an individual can take a methodical approach to the process. It may be best to work with a professional because if an estate plan is not prepared correctly, the individual's wishes might not be carried out.

The first step is to take inventory of all assets and debts. This helps to determine net worth and also gives people a list of assets to work from as they decide who they want to choose as their beneficiaries. As part of choosing beneficiaries, individuals should also consider whether a will or a trust is the best way to pass on the assets. If the assets are going to children or younger people, a trust can be used to manage how the assets are distributed. It is also important to keep beneficiaries updated on life insurance policies and similar plans.

People may also want to consider creating documents regarding their health care preferences in case they become incapacitated, such as a living will and a health care directive. They must also choose someone to make these decisions as well as someone to administer the estate. If there is a trust, it is necessary to name a trustee.

Talking to family members about the estate plan may also help because they will then have a better idea of an individual's wishes and the rationale behind them. Executors, trustees and people chosen to manage health care and finances should be trustworthy and organized. Individuals should make sure their executor knows where to find their will and other estate planning documents as well as any assets. They may also want to consider leaving instructions for their social media accounts.

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