Estate planning is an important part of protecting your assets and wishes, but sometimes, it’s hard to sift through the details and know where to start. You may also need help from an expert to confirm you are addressing all the various aspects of the estate planning process. At The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, we have been in practice since 2004, specializing in many aspects of elder care law, including estate planning tips for Florida residents. Read more about our estate planning tips for Florida residents.

5 Tips for a Comprehensive Estate Plan

  1. Hire an Expert: Preparing an estate plan is not a DIY project. It is important to ensure certain processes and procedures are followed, so your documents are legal and valid. Hiring an attorney with expertise in estate planning success is an important first step.
  2. Express Your Wishes: Every person and every family is different. It is essential that you share your goals with your estate attorney, so your legal documents are drawn up to express your personal wishes. Some things you may decide upon are your personal representative (executor/executrix), beneficiaries, power of attorney, guardianship of minor children, and wishes for long-term care.
  3. Consider Trust Options: Wills, revocable trusts, and irrevocable trusts are just three of the most common choices for documenting the plan for your estate. Depending on your age and goals for your estate, your attorney can help you choose the best option for your situation.
  4. Maximize Asset Protection: One of the most important reasons for estate planning is to maximize the protection of your estate assets by avoiding the probate process and ensuring that you have accounted for federal government and/or state estate taxes. This includes physical assets such as real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, online accounts, and digital assets you may own.

Follow Up: Many attorneys recommend a yearly review of your trust to update changes that may need to be made due to the beneficiary designations, additional accumulated or lost assets, changes in real estate, retirement plans, and your goals based on your health and preferences.

FAQ: What Is a Personal Representative and What Do They Do?

  • What is a personal representative (also known as an executor or executrix)? A personal representative is the person chosen by the deceased person or court to administer a person’s estate upon their death.
  • What does a personal representative do? The job of a personal representative is to see that the wishes of the deceased person are carried out according to their will or trust.
  • How necessary is a personal representative? A personal representative is an important advocate for your wishes. A good choice is someone whom you trust and who has the time and personal investment to make sure that your estate is properly administered, including managing death certificates, collecting assets, reviewing and signing Court documents, verifying outstanding debts, distributing assets to beneficiaries, etc.

The choice of an estate planning attorney for legal matters is an important and personal one. Please contact our office today to discuss your estate planning needs in Florida.