Many people in Florida may be considering how they can manage their estates to best protect their assets and provide for their loved ones after they pass away. By preparing an estate planning checklist, people can help prevent problems later down the line for their families. Since estate planning involves thinking about death and complicated family relationships, people often put off the task. According to a 2016 survey, over 64 percent of Americans do not currently have a will, which is one of the most basic estate planning documents.

When high-profile figures like Prince, Howard Hughes or Sonny Bono die without a will, it can cause headlines. But when the same circumstance happens to most people, it can just intensify the pain and complications for those left behind. By developing an estate plan, people can handle an array of issues from their medical care if they become incapacitated to how their property is later distributed. When someone doesn’t have an advance medical directive or a living will in place, those difficult decisions are often left to family members. Similarly, when individuals pass away without a will, a probate court will handle the distribution of their assets.

Probate not only takes time, but it also consumes a portion of the estate in fees. In addition, a court’s decision may not line up with a person’s intentions; balancing loved ones’ needs can be particularly important in the case of blended families. An estate plan should include all of a person’s assets, including retirement funds, real estate and investment accounts.

When people are considering how to deal with wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other key documents, an estate planning lawyer can help. An attorney can help someone develop a comprehensive estate plan that addresses health care concerns as well as property distribution to ensure that his or her assets are distributed most effectively.