Those in Florida and elsewhere who have taken the time to meticulously put together their estate plans may be distressed to know that changes in the law can affect how their estate is actually distributed. In order to protect beneficiaries and ensure final wishes are actually realized, adjusting plans to keep up with law changes is necessary. An experienced estate planning attorney can help make such adjustments.
Estate planning can be a frustrating process. It is understandable that one would want to do everything possible, so that when the time comes to distribute and estate, probate can be avoided. Depending on the specifics of one's estate, this can be a challenge in and of itself. No matter what steps one may take, there is no guarantee that probate will not be necessary.
There are things that can be done, however, to minimize the risk of an estate being settled in probate. For instance, beneficiaries listed directly on accounts, such as retirement funds and life insurance policies, will be given precedence over whoever is listed on an estate plan. This is one way to ensure those funds are distributed to the right person. Another way is to set up a trust. Depending on the type of trust selected, its maker can be in control of the trust assets throughout his or her life, but at the end of life, that control will be relinquished to a designated successor who will be charged with distributing the estate as the original trustee desired.
The biggest changes in the law that will affect an estate plan and beneficiaries are adjustments to tax laws. No one wants to pay more in taxes than they have to, and an estate can be protected by making any necessary changes to keep up with new laws. Florida residents can assistance from an estate planning attorney who will be able to advise on current laws and modify estate plans as needed.
Source: USA Today, "Your estate plan: Be aware of new laws", Joseph A. Clark, Sept. 13, 2015