Florida welcomes nearly one million seasonal residents during winter. If you’re one of them, it’s time you may want to consider adding the following estate planning tasks to your annual getting ready checklist.
Update Your Estate Planning in Tampa FL
Estate planning documents that reflect your current life situation are a must. Such documents include wills, trust, and advance directives, such as a health care surrogate, living will, and power of attorney. They give you a say in your affairs even when you can’t speak for yourself, either due to death or incapacity. They also save your loved-ones confusion, time, and additional heartache.
Estate planning documents should be reviewed regularly, including after significant life events (marriages, births, etc.) and when you move to a new state (even temporarily), to remain current with changes in your life and the law.
Get Your Advance Directives in Order
While will and trust documents are typically honored regardless of where they were drafted, laws and requirements for advance directives vary from state to state. This means a directive drafted in one state may not apply in another state. So, what can you do?
One option is to create two plans–one from each state where you live. Unlike some documents, nothing is stopping you, legally, from having two sets of powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, living wills, etc. It can be beneficial.
For example, Florida requires that a health care proxy be signed in the presence of two witnesses. If your home state requires just one witness, you may want the second document in Florida that follows the stricter requirements. With two sets of documents from each state where you live, you can feel confident that your wishes will be carried out no matter the format, terminology, or other state-regulated legal jargon.
Review your beneficiary designations
You’ve hopefully listed beneficiaries on all your financial accounts. Most investment accounts, such as your 401(k), require it when you set them up. Cash accounts are less likely to require it, but it’s good practice to name beneficiaries anyway.
After you’ve named them, you should also periodically review the beneficiary designations to ensure they still meet your goals and work with your estate plan. For example, one of your beneficiaries may have gotten married or divorced which resulted in a name change. Or perhaps you were diligent about naming beneficiaries a few years ago but missed that step in a new account. Life changes. It’s always wise to stop and ensure your paperwork has kept up.
Make Sure both of Your Homes are Considered
Living part-time in a different state adds a touch of complexity to estate planning, especially if you own a home in both your home state and part-time state. And if both properties aren’t considered in your estate plan, you could be setting your family up for multiple probate court processes.
Probate courts only have jurisdiction to distribute property held within their own state. If your Florida home isn’t mentioned in your estate plan, it will likely become necessary for probate in Florida. A Florida resident will need to be appointed executor, and your family will likely need local counsel. There are ways to avoid probate in both states, such as setting up a trust. An experienced estate planning attorney can help determine what will work best for your specific state combination and living situation.
Organize and communicate
Last but not least, the best-drafted estate plan does nothing if your family doesn’t know about it or where to find your documents when they need them. Many people opt to use a safe deposit box or home safe to keep these documents secure. Wherever you decide, collect and protect all of your essential documents and information, including your will, trust, powers of attorney, etc., then make sure your family knows where they are and how to access them. It’s also a good idea to provide copies of your powers of attorney and other such documents to the person(s) named in them so that they have the documents on hand in an emergency. And don’t forget about your digital assets. Make sure to have a list of usernames and passwords for online accounts.
These tasks are simple with the right support. Call our experienced estate planning lawyers at Mortellaro Law today: 813-551-1072 to make the most of your life as a snowbird.