J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Developing an effective estate plan

An effective estate plan will ensure that the beneficiaries a party wishes to inherit their assets are the beneficiaries who in fact inherit those assets. This can be a concern regardless of the size of the estate, and estate planning can help provide peace of mind. Without a will or trust, Florida intestacy laws will determine who inherits what, so it is important to prepare estate planning documents which specify who will inherit one's assets.

Some assets, such as bank and investment accounts, pass outside the will according to beneficiary designations set out in the account documents. The process of designating beneficiaries of these non-probate assets is an important part of the estate planning process. If the party executing the will wishes for certain funds be spent for a specific purpose, such as on a college education, establishing a trust to administer those funds as part of the overall estate plan is useful to consider.

Estate planning can include a number of complexities, including tax implications, which are important to understand. There are a number of strategies to minimize federal estate taxes, and an experienced estate planning lawyer can help a client identify those best suited to the client's situation. By maximizing the benefit of the marital deduction and the federal estate and gift tax exemption, a Florida resident can avoid unnecessary taxation of their estate.

Because of the complexities of estate planning, it is helpful to have guidance from a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can prepare a plan to carry out the client's wishes.

Source: Forbes, "5 Estate Planning Tips," February 23, 2012

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