As a Florida estate Lawyer and probate lawyer, attorney Matthew Weidner frequently helps clients with their estate planning needs and helps families during the probate process. Unfortunately, during his time as a probate attorney, Matthew Weidner has seen more than a few families having to deal with poorly planned estates that were completed through online “do it yourself” systems. This type of situation almost always causes complications, but it also frequently overlooks some of the most important considerations of estate planning (this is why it helps to have an estate planning attorney help you with your planning – they can remind you of various factors that are unique to you that you may need to consider in your planning). So, in an effort to help you to better plan your own estate, today we’re going to touch on 10 of the most often neglected things when people are planning their estate.
Florida Estate Lawyer Shares 10 Things Often Neglected During Estate Planning
1. Forgetting to name an alternate beneficiary
An alternate beneficiary is someone who will receive property that was designated to a primary beneficiary if that primary beneficiary is unable to claim it. For example, if the primary beneficiary dies prior to the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries, an alternate beneficiary would receive those assets instead.
2. Forgetting to make arrangements for pets
We love our pets, but when we’re planning our estate, we can easily get caught up with the nitty-gritty and neglect to make arrangements for our pets. It’s also not uncommon for people to assume that their pets will be taken care of by a specific individual but without documentation and legal arrangements, it can’t be guaranteed.
3. Neglecting items of sentimental value
Rarely do people forget to make arrangements for financial assets or property, but it’s not uncommon for people to forget to make arrangements for specific heirlooms with sentimental value. If you have specific items that have sentimental value, talk to your Florida estate lawyer about designating specific items to specific beneficiaries.
4. Neglecting digital assets
Digital assets are another type of asset that is easily forgotten. Whether we’re talking about domain names, online account usernames and passwords, or cryptocurrency, it’s crucial that you account for these items in your estate planning. Forgetting to note these assets in your estate planning can result in them being lost forever or at least your beneficiaries being denied access to them.
5. Not making arrangements should something worse happen
This is particularly important if you are a parent. Most parents make arrangements for their child to go to a specific individual in the event that something happens to them. In most cases, this individual is a spouse, grandparent, or another relative. What parents don’t consider, is what happens if that individual succumbs to the same fate. For example, a mother who leaves her children to their father. Should the mother and father both be killed in a car accident, who would care for the children? It’s always important to name a secondary caregiver if not a third as well.
6. Neglecting to name someone important
When it comes to naming beneficiaries it’s easy to forget to name someone when planning your estate particularly if you are flustered at the time of planning or if you have a rather large family. Take your time when it comes to naming beneficiaries in your will. Sit down and make a list of names and keep that list with you for a week or two as you start planning for your estate so that you have less of a chance of forgetting someone.
7. Failing to account for any genetic material
If you have frozen sperm, eggs, or embryos, make sure that you make the proper arrangements for that material should you pass away unexpectedly. This is becoming more of a concern with more people waiting until later in life to have children and freezing genetic material to make this possible. Most genetic labs will have you sign a wealth of paperwork before the harvesting process, but it’s up to you to ensure that that paperwork is all in order. It’s also important to make sure that you consult your attorney and make any arrangements should you want to allow your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. to have access to your genetic material should you die.
8. Not talking to loved ones about your wishes and arrangements
Even when you’ve made all the necessary arrangements and taken care of everything, not telling your loved ones about those wishes or arrangements is a mistake even if it’s unintentional. Your family should know what to expect when your time comes with no surprises. Neglecting to keep your family informed can result in problems with your estate if they contest your will, however, letting them know what to expect beforehand can stop this from happening.
9. Not keeping your estate planning documents up to date
Having estate planning documents in place is no good if you don’t keep those documents up to date. Make it a habit to check over your estate planning documents once a year and ensure that everything is updated.
10. Not consulting an attorney
Writing your own will or doing an online will makes it much too easy to make mistakes and render your estate planning documents invalid. Spend the money to consult an attorney to ensure that your documents are done correctly so that they hold up in court.
Do You Need the Help of a Florida Estate Lawyer?
If you need the help of a Florida estate planning attorney to plan out your estate, Attorney Matt Weidner and Weidner Law can help. Just pick up the phone and dial 727-954-8752 to get started on your estate planning today!