By: Rebecca L. Nichols, Esq.

Published at

3 May 2024

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How Often Should I Update My Florida Estate Plan?

It is crucial to update and review your Florida estate plan. A common practice is to review all your documents every three to five years. However, individuals with substantial assets should consult a Florida estate planning attorney toupdate estate plansmore frequently.

However, postpone your estate planning documents if you've experienced a life-changing event that could significantly impact your future wishes.

Key Take-Aways
  1. Regular updates and review of an estate plan are recommended in Florida.
  2. As a common practice, one must update the estate plan every 3-5 years.
  3. In case of major life events such as birth or adoption, buying a home, investing in new ventures, marriage or divorce regular and immediate estate plan updates are mandatory.
  4. Updating your estate plan includes checking and verifying the willingness of the executor, and guardian to minors to comply with their responsibilities.
  5. Give full access to your digital assets like accounts and passwords to your agents and beneficiaries.
  6. Updating beneficiaries for your assets such as IRAs, 401ks, and life insurance policies.
  7. Consulting an estate planner can help review your estate plan.

Major life events that can impact my estate plan. What Should I Look For?

You'll want to review your documentation to ensure no life events necessitating updates to these Florida estate planning documents.  

Major life changes that may impact your estate plan include 

  1. Birth or adoption, 
  2. Buying a home, 
  3. Buying an investment property or second home, 
  4. Marriage or divorce, 
  5. Name changes, 
  6. Health issues.  

Other changes that should be reviewed are whether new accounts were opened or businesses were created.  For instance, if you have a Revocable Living Trust and opened a new checking account, you'll want to ensure the account is titled in the name of the trust for proper administration in the event of your incapacity or death.

Estate Plan Review Checklist: 

Reviewing your estate plan is crucial to ensure your wishes are carried out. This checklist helps you explain why the qualifications, willingness, and ability of representatives, update beneficiaries, and secure account access are important to ensure a smooth transition for your loved ones.

Personal Representative or Executor willingness  to carry out their duties: 

You'll also want to review your documentation to ensure the individuals you selected are still qualified, willing, and able to carry out theirduties as personal representatives,trustees, or agents under an advanced directive such as a Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, or Declaration of PreNeed Guardian.  

Suggested Read:  
Top 5 Reasons Why you Need a Durable Power Of Attorney

Review Guardianship  for minors:  

  1. Remember to review your guardianship designations for minor children.
  2. Ensure the guardian is still able and willing to carry the responsibilities of your minor.
  3. The appointed guardian meets the necessary qualifications, such as being a state resident or having a certain income level. 

Let's say you named a close friend as the guardian for your minor children. However, your friend has since relocated to another state. In this case, you need to update your Will to appoint a new guardian who meets the necessary qualifications and is willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your children.

Informing Your Representative or Executor of your  Accounts and Passwords:

  1. Examining your list of accounts, account numbers, and passwords is also crucial. 
  2. The availability of this information to your representative or trustee at the appropriate time is imperative. 
  3. As electronic statements become the norm, relying on mail delivery isn’t sufficient. Instead, ensure your representative has online access to your accounts, making it easier for them to manage your financial affairs. 
  4. Not only do account passwords change regularly, but the number and types of accounts may also change.  

Updating Beneficiary for your Assets: 

  1. Further, you should review the beneficiaries named on all assets, such as IRAs, 401ks, and life insurance policies.
  2. If you have changed your mind about who you'd like to inherit these assets. 
  3. Have a beneficiary predecessor, updated beneficiary designations should be submitted to the appropriate financial institutions. 
  4. Confirmations of the beneficiary designations should be kept with your updated estate planning documents.

How Do I Know If There Are Changes to the Law?

Although ourestate planning attorneysrecommend that you update your estate plan on your own at least annually, we also recommend that you review your estate plan with one of our attorneys every three to five years and when there is a major life event.  This will ensure that your documentation complies with current law.  

For instance, the laws regarding a Durable Power of Attorney changed in 2011 and updated documents became necessary for many individuals.

A regular review, including documentation prepared by your Florida estate planning attorney, asset lists, password lists, and the like should be part of your annual financial review.  

Failing to update your estate plan can lead to unintended consequences and undermine the very purpose of your plan. This can cause frustration and uncertainty for your loved ones, compromising your wishes and making it difficult for your estate plan to be carried out as intended.

Need a Thorough Review of your Estate Plan: Consult a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

Our qualified Florida estate planning attorneys can review your existing estate planning documentation to ensure your documentation complies with current Florida law.  

The attorneys can also review your list of assets with you to make recommendations and ensure everything is clear, creating an effective and comprehensive estate plan.  

Please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys today.

Useful Resource: 

  1. Estate Planning for Young Families: 5 Essential Steps to Protect Them
  2. Comprehensive Florida Estate Planning Checklist 2024
  3. Was your Estate Plan Made in Another State

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