VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Steps to take when creating an estate plan

Some people in Florida may need to take extra steps to make sure that their estate planning documents are in proper order. An estate plan might need to be more than simply a will that lists which assets go to which people.

The first step in creating or expanding an estate plan is for the estate owner to assess their net worth. This includes debts, assets and life insurance policies. Since heirs could potentially fight over many different inheritances, all assets should be listed regardless of their size and worth.

A letter of intent, which explains the rationale behind estate planning decisions, may reduce the likelihood that family members will argue over the estate plan. It is also important to choose the right people to manage the plan. This includes the executor of the will, the trustee if there is a trust, and a guardian if there are minor children. A trustee may need to be a professional since the position often requires financial expertise. People can leave instructions for both trustees and guardians regarding their wishes.

Finally, it is important to review the estate plan regularly. It may also need to be updated after major life changes such as births, marriages and divorces.

An estate owner may want to talk to a lawyer about other important documents such as powers of attorney for finances and health care. This part of an estate plan deals with what happens if one becomes incapacitated and can no longer make decisions. It appoints someone to make those decisions on the estate owner's behalf.

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