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Ensure your estate plan holds up

Orlando families working out how their patriarchs and matriarchs will pass on assets after death may want to hear what one respected financial adviser has to say on the matter. To start, avoiding errors caused by the process's complexity is the first step to successful estate planning. After that, making sure the correct paperwork is filed and updated to reflect any changes in circumstances should be at the top of a family's estate administration tasks.

41 percent of older baby boomers have not prepared a will. Although such a document doesn't make for a complete estate plan, without a will the decedent's property will go where a court probate process decides it should go. He also points out that of that 41 percent, it's likely that many of those boomers have not kept their wills updated, meaning that beloved property might legally go to someone like an ex-spouse. Keeping an update will is as important as having a will in the first place.

Outside of a will, naming beneficiaries for life insurance, retirement contracts, individual retirement accounts and other such assets means that the policy or annuity owner gets to decide which heirs get what money. This process is not subject to probate as a will can be, and so the adviser once again says to make sure those products are updated as well.

Estate complexities can be daunting. The process of creating a legacy might be made easier with the assistance of an attorney experienced in living wills, trusts and probate issues. A legal professional can assist clients in assigning beneficiaries for the desired distribution of assets and may be helpful in making sure all tax responsibilities of an estate plan are considered.

Source: Forbes, "How To Inherit Wealth Without Screwing Up", Larry Light, November 22, 2013

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