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Keeping an estate plan current when life changes occur

Florida residents who take the initiative to protect their assets for their loved ones by drafting estate planning documents and crafting strategies to make their desires become a reality are making a smart decision. However, in the majority of cases, the estate plan structure does not simply stop once it is completed. With family changes comes the need to make adjustments to the estate plan. Knowing what factors make it necessary to change the estate plan are important for the future.

Change is unavoidable in life. There might have been the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, changes to health status, the end of a marriage, a career change, a family member who has special needs, retiring and more. For some, there is one change. For others, there are multiple changes. Everyone needs to make certain to keep track of the beneficiaries, pay attention to an individual retirement account, the need for a power of attorney, proper account titles and changes to family status.

There can be multiple accounts and the account beneficiaries must be kept up to date. It is wise to confirm this on an annual basis with the pension or a deferred compensation plan. It is possible that a change was requested with the company, but was not officially completed. This can be an issue after the person dies. With IRA, it is often complex to pass the account from the testator onto the beneficiary. There can be tax issues or estate disputes. With an IRA, the person who is the listed beneficiary will receive the account and it does not matter what a will says.

The financial and medical powers of attorney are in place to allow someone who is trustworthy to make the decisions for the person if there is a loss of capacity. This must be maintained. Titles on accounts, such as checking, investment and savings accounts, can be confusing. Also important are the property titles. The difference between a person's legal name and a shortened version of the name or nickname is an example of the confusion that can lead to upheaval with an estate plan. For those who are vigilant with their assets and estate planning, maintenance and adjustments are necessary are part of the process.

Source: marketwatch.com, "Is your estate plan up to date? Check these 5 things," Melody Juge, Jan. 12, 2017

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