When people in Florida complete their initial estate planning documents, they may think that they’ve already taken care of everything they need to do to ensure their assets are properly directed. However, some key follow-up steps can help to ensure that the estate plan will work as directed.
One of the most important items for people to consider after completing their planning process is changing beneficiary designations on relevant accounts. From life insurance policies to investment accounts and other transfer-on-death funds, a significant portion of a person’s assets may transfer without probate to a named beneficiary.
In some cases, people forget to update their beneficiaries for years, and an unintended party benefits from a large life insurance policy or retirement account. Because these funds generally pass outside of a person’s will, trusts and other documents, the account holder must file beneficiary designation forms with the insurance company, brokerage, bank or account manager. It is important to make sure that the named beneficiaries are correct and up-to-date; failing to do so could undermine a significant part of a person’s estate plan.
While decisions about wills and beneficiaries can be kept private, it can be helpful to share key information with close family members or professional advisers. This background can help people to make decisions and prepare for the future. In addition, the documents themselves should be identifiable and accessible; if no one can find the will, it may not pass through probate.
The estate planning process can be complex, and many people dedicate a great deal of time to the thoughtful distribution of their assets. An estate planning attorney may work not only to draft the legal documents that reflect a person’s goals but also to lay out the clear follow-up steps needed to help make sure that this vision is realized.