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

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Important steps to implementing an estate plan

Even after one completes an estate plan in Florida, there may be some important extra tasks to keep in mind. Developing the drafts of the document, working with an attorney to perfect it and signing off on the final version is a major accomplishment. Still, follow-up can be critical to make sure that an estate plan has the full effect that its creator desires.

One of the most important actions relates to a type of transfer that generally takes place outside of the context of wills and trusts. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other funds with transfer-on-death policies all require up-to-date, correct beneficiaries. The owner of the account must file beneficiary designations with the insurance company or account manager. If people do not designate their beneficiaries properly, it could significantly affect their overall plans for their estate.

In addition, in order for the trusts that were drafted to go into proper effect, they must be funded. If a revocable trust is never funded, the beneficiaries of the estate will need to take those assets through probate rather than having them pass according to the terms of the trust. In addition, it is important to keep in mind which assets a person owns jointly with a right of survivorship. Many homes and bank accounts are held this way, and they do not pass according to the terms of a will or a trust.

Furthermore, it is important to keep those key estate documents available. If major documents are locked away in a secret safe deposit box or an encrypted file, family and beneficiaries may not be able to gain access. An estate planning attorney can advise a client not only on how they can develop a plan to meet their needs but also on how it can be properly communicated to beneficiaries.