Estate disputes can create a tense, divisive probate process after the death of a loved one in Florida. Making common estate planning mistakes can lead to difficulty or even failure to execute a person’s wishes. It’s important to devote the time and effort toward maintaining a comprehensive, up to date estate plan to help lessen the likelihood of disputes down the line.
It’s unlikely that an estate can prepare for every potential dispute, but careful, thoughtful planning can ensure your estate should be able to withstand the most common challenges. Consider past errors and constructive tips in creating and maintaining an estate plan.
Do revisit your estate plan
One common mistake individuals make in planning for the future is failing to revisit an estate plan after its initial creation. There will likely be many times throughout a person’s life that a will, trust or other planning document needs an update.
Oftentimes major milestones prompt an updated will. These may include positive or negative changes to a person’s life. Getting married, having children, starting a business, purchasing a home or other property and other developments should trigger a reminder to update an existing estate plan. Additionally, revisit your plans if a marriage ends, a loved one dies or a business venture ends.
Revisiting an estate plan every few years is just as important as updating it following major life changes. Check in with your plans every year or two to ensure it’s still relevant to your current circumstances.
Don’t hide your plans
It’s important that your estate plans are not only physically accessible, but also accessible in conversation with loved one. While it’s important to keep important planning documents safe, don’t mistake that as a reason to hide your estate plan in a box somewhere and not tell anyone.
Keep important documents on file with a financial planner and your estate planning attorney. You can keep a copy for yourself as well, but be sure to entrust copies of this information to those who will need access during the probate process.
Talk about your plans and wishes with your loved ones. The more they know about your intentions, the more prepared they’ll be during probate. If your wishes are clear, this can help prevent disputes and contests of an estate because the parties will know what you wanted.
Do work with professionals
There are plenty of projects to do for yourself, but estate planning is not one of them. It takes skill, experience and expertise to properly plan for and administer a person’s wishes. Work with skilled financial and legal experts to ensure your estate plan is enforceable and accurate.
Probate disputes can drive loved ones apart in an already difficult time of grief. Careful and comprehensive estate planning can help prevent these disputes before they happen and give you the best chance of realizing your plans and wishes down the line.