VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

The benefits of a complete estate plan

Florida residents may not be able to fulfill the goals of their estate plan if it is not fully thought out. In some cases, a married couple may create a plan assuming that one spouse will outlive the other. Plans may also assume that a healthy spouse will outlive one who is incapacitated. However, if this doesn't happen, a home or other assets may have to go through probate.

When assets are placed in joint tenancy with survivorship rights, a surviving spouse now owns those assets in his or her name. It is now necessary to determine how assets would be transferred after the second spouse dies. This may be done by writing a will that specifies who is to receive the property. It may also be possible to do nothing and let state law determine who gets an asset or assets.

Individuals who want to make sure that their property doesn't need to go through probate may have several options at their disposal. For instance, it may be possible to name a beneficiary to an investment or retirement account. It may also be possible to create a transfer on death (TOD) deed for homes or other real property. Ideally, when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse will review the current estate plan to ensure it still meets his or her needs.

There may be several estate planning strategies available to help a person meet his or her needs. For instance, naming a beneficiary to an investment or bank account may allow it to transfer without going through probate. Holding assets in a trust may be effective if a surviving spouse becomes incapacitated and can't manage them on his or her own. Creating a power of attorney may also be helpful in the event that a person becomes incapacitated.

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