Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Decluttering finances and estate planning

When planning for retirement in Florida, many people decide it is time to create an estate plan. Estate plans do not have to be messy and complicated. Just as taking the clutter out of a room can make it easier to access and enjoy, decluttering one’s finances can make estate planning simpler and easier.

Consolidating bank accounts and setting up automatic drafts for bills can make managing and tracking funds much easier. An important fact to keep in mind is that FDIC insurance is limited to $250,000 per depositor at each institution. Selling individual stocks and investing in a professionally managed mutual fund can help simplify investments.

Eliminating unnecessary credit cards can make debts easier to track. Closing accounts can impact a consumer’s credit rating, so it is important not to close accounts when preparing to apply for a major loan. Closing accounts gradually over a period of years can lessen the impact on a consumer’s credit score.

It is also a good idea to keep important documents in a safe place where they can be easily accessed by a trusted individual in case of an emergency. These documents should include identification information such as Social Security cards and birth certificates, copies of drivers licenses, credit cards and passports, a list of any bank accounts, insurance records and estate planning documents such as a will or power of attorney.

An attorney may be able to help clients choose the estate planning options that are right for them. For some clients, a will may be the best option; for others, a trust may be the best way to manage assets and help beneficiaries avoid tax penalties. An attorney may be able to help simplify the estate planning process by explaining complicated estate planning legal terms in a way that is easy for clients to understand and keeping track of important documents. It is a good idea to keep an attorney’s contact information in a secure place that is accessible to beneficiaries along with other important information.