Estate planning is the process by which one provides how his or her estate will be distributed at death. This process has been called “Life Planning,” because what you do during lifetime will affect how your estate will be distributed at death.
Many times people procrastinate planning their estates. Multiple reasons are given:
- “But I’m not old or sick. I’ll make a will someday.” It is easy to delay preparing an estate plan, since oftentimes the young and healthy feel impervious to death. But who knows when we’ll take that last breath?
- “But I don’t have that much to leave.” An estate plan covers all of your assets, life insurance, pension benefits, 401k plans, jointly held assets, real estate, your house, collections, etc. When added together, your total estate can be much larger than you think.
- “But it will all go to my family anyway.” If one dies without a will in Florida, State law determines who gets his or her estate. In short, the State of Florida makes a will for you — usually the closest family members, which may or may not match your wishes.
Estate planning involves the orderly disposition of one’s assets at death through either a will or trust. It also makes provision in case one becomes disabled during lifetime and is not able to pay bills, sell property, etc. These are called advance directives, and may or may not be necessary during one’s lifetime.
A proper estate plan should be reviewed and possibly revised periodically, every 3-5 years. This is a good time to discuss any changed circumstances, such as a move to another state, births, deaths of marriage in the family, change in the tax laws, or other major issues.