Putting off the creation of a last will or estate plan can make things much more difficult for your family, particularly if something happens to you before you take the time to create one. If you have already created a will or have decided it is time to do so, it’s important that you ensure you have all of the proper information in your last will and estate plan.
The whole point of creating a last will is to leave a specific legacy and provide for the people you love. Failing to include important information in your last will might undermine those intentions in the long run.
It is a good idea for people to create their last wills as soon as they have substantial assets or dependents. However, they will want to revisit their last will at least every few years to make sure that it is both accurate and in compliance with the ever-changing probate laws in Florida.
Make sure you properly identify all beneficiaries and heirs
Picking your heirs is only half the issue. Giving proper identifying information about your intended recipients for the estate is a very important step. Simply using names may lead to confusion. Identifying your heirs by full name, date of birth and even their Social Security number is a good idea. That additional clarity can prevent issues that may arise from people within the family sharing names or other similar issues.
Include statements about assets with emotional or family value
Has your family celebrated holidays every year at a table that you inherited from your great-grandparents? Do you have a family Bible that has been handed down since your ancestors came to the United States? Sometimes, assets in modern estates don’t have much financial value, but substantial emotional or historical value to the family.
These assets can often be the source of fighting among family members after you die. Even if you have verbally expressed your wishes in the past as to the succession a family heirloom, addressing each asset in writing will help prevent any squabbling among your family members.
Address ownership of real estate and major accounts
Whether you own a small condo or multiple properties, the real estate you’ve acquired will likely be some of the most valuable assets you leave behind. The same may be true of large accounts for investment or retirement funds.
Make sure that you leave explicit directions about how the executor of your estate should handle those larger, financially valuable assets. You can choose to give individual accounts to specific members of your family or opt to simply plan for heirs to receive a certain percentage of the overall value of your real estate or financial assets.
Consider expanding your will into a thorough estate plan
When all you do is talk about who gets what, you may overlook many important considerations in your estate. You can create a more complex and thorough estate plan by adding other documents, ranging from a living will or durable power of attorney, to protect your assets in the event of incapacitation, to advance medical directives that outline your wishes in the event that you can’t express your own desires about medical care.
Your family, assets and wishes will change over the years. Whether you have already created an estate or are starting from scratch, it’s important to remember that you want to revisit these topics every few years to ensure the best protection.