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5 Questions to Use When You Create Your Estate Plan in the New Year


With the new year beginning, have you completed your New Year’s resolutions? As the month of January gets underway, we know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. What did your resolutions focus on? Work or health or family or all three?

We want you to know that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make this year is to create your Florida estate plan. An estate plan can protect you both during life and at the time of your death. By working with your estate planning attorney, you can create an estate plan that will protect you while you are living and then your estate when you pass away. Your attorney will ensure your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker and will show you how to make sure that your family will be provided for when you are no longer here with them.

If you have an estate plan, that is great news. However, it is important that your plan currently reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. In one year many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only encapsulating the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.

Need a place to start? Let us share five questions for you to think about. You may also use them to ask your Florida estate planning attorney as you work on your Florida estate plan in the new year.

1. Should I update my plan if my immediate family members have changed? Absolutely! Whenever there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, make it a priority to work with your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. What effect do changes in the laws have on my estate plan? This is an important question to ask your attorney. Your attorney stays up to date with all the latest information that could impact your legal planning and can make recommendations on if your current plan needs to be updated or changed.

3. I do not have a Florida estate plan and I really do not know what an estate plan does. Am I really unprotected? A Florida estate plan employs a variety of legal planning tools to address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity, among other things. Yes, you are unprotected if you have a crisis or you pass away because there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. If you do not take the time to create an estate plan the court in Florida may be required, in order for there to be legal authority, for another person to act on your behalf. Often this can be time consuming, costly, and public. All of this can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.

4. Is it necessary to get started with creating a plan or updating it? Yes, you should begin as soon as possible. To maximize the potential benefits a Florida estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.

5. What can I expect my Florida estate planning attorney to discuss with me? To begin, he will discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning. He will describe various tools, such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. He can help you choose your decision maker, as well as back up decision maker, for times of crisis. He can also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s Resolution of having a Florida estate plan that can meet your needs. When your family or financial health is on the line, trust attorney Paul Riffel to help you protect your interests and achieve your goals. Attorney Paul Riffel has been practicing law in Florida for over 40 years, focusing in the areas of Tampa estate planning and family law. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.

Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Paul Riffel Law is located in Tampa FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Odessa, Thonotosassa, Gibsonton, Sydney, Dover, Land O Lakes, Oldsmar, Apollo Beach, Lithia, Safety Harbor, Trilby, Plant City, Durant, Holiday, Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

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