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Updating Your Florida Estate Plan [the Winds of Change]

Updating Your Florida Estate Plan

I was recently engaging in some “shop talk” with a colleague who is an outstanding divorce attorney about the need for updating estate plans in Florida following a divorce.

Like the wind, life changes often occur and when this happens, your Florida estate planning can suffer.


Updating Estate Plans in Florida 

By updating your Florida estate planning I am talking about making sure that your old Florida estate planning documents such as your wills, durable powers of attorney, advance medical directives and guardianship documents.  You may also have a Florida revocable trust as part of your plan and this is atop the list of documents that may need to be updated due the winds of change.

So this week’s article features 10 common circumstances which often give rise to updating your Florida estate planning documents.

  1. Divorce

Divorce splits your estate in half and removes one of the key players.  In this unfortunate event, a new revocable living trust is needed for obvious reasons.  The updated plan must recognize any Florida estate changes due to divorce as well as changes in the beneficiaries upon death and the change may require removal of the former spouse’s beneficiaries.  Also, a change in your designated appointees will most likely be needed due to the former spouse’s role in the estate.

  1. Death or Disability of One Spouse

This circumstance also removes a key player but in a different way.  Another successor trustee may need to be appointed due to the inability of the spouse to serve or to accommodate a change in who receives the estate upon the surviving spouse’s death.  There also may be a need to distribute certain assets to a deceased spouse’s beneficiaries following that spouse’s death so a change would need to be made to exclude those same beneficiaries from a future share of the surviving spouse’s estate. Disability of one spouse may require other changes such as the preparation of a Florida special needs trust.

  1. Birth or Adoption of Children or Other Dependents

On a happier note, new children and grandchildren change an estate plan.  Estate documents should generally be updated to reflect this change in either natural birth or adoption situations.  Changes can also become an issue in the cases where grandchildren have been adopted directly by grandparents due to the adult child’s inability to care for their children.  There are also situations where a new adult dependent such as an elderly parent is now needier and requires consideration in the estate plan so the revocable trust would need to be updated to accommodate their care.

  1. Relocation to a New Home State of Residence

If the winds of change blew you southward, the old estate planning documents may need to be updated to comply with the laws of your new state of residence.  Older or out of state documents may be difficult to enforce where there are notary problems or witnesses cannot be located.  Documents such as a Florida Durable Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Directive in Florida can become obsolete over time and are subject to unique state laws and should be reviewed for compliance with state laws.

  1. Adult Child Facing Addiction or Perilous Financial Circumstances

Self destructive behaviors happen and if an adult child would now be harmed due to receiving an outright sum of money because of his or her life circumstances, there are trust options that can be adopted to protect your estate for adult children by holding it in trust for his or her benefit.

  1. Changes in Your Financial Circumstances

If you win the lottery or receive an inheritance, your old estate plan may be rendered obsolete due to the need for estate tax planning.  Substantial estate tax planning will need to be looked at to avoid a financial disaster.  If you’ve recently suffered financially, a simplified plan with new fiduciaries may be in order to eliminate any confusion among family members or professionals.

  1. Changes in Asset Holdings or New Business or Investments

Did you finally decide to take the plunge and start your own business?  There may be numerous succession planning concerns that must be addressed such as who is authorized to sell or continue the business and this is called business continuity succession planning OR business succession planning in Florida.  Another common change is to assure that your company shares have been transferred to your revocable trust.

  1. Death or Disability of a Fiduciary Appointee

How about when your bank trustee met its demise a few years ago?  If your old successor trustee in Florida or Florida appointed power of attorney is no longer able to serve, this change must be made to your estate plan or your plan will not work.

  1.   Pet Adoption

Did the winds of change blow your kids out of the house for good?  Many retirees with empty nests now have a household that includes a lovable pet.  There are pet trust options in Florida to make sure your fluffy little friend is well cared for and this may necessitate changes to your current plan.

  1. Charitable Intentions

Perhaps you’ve joined the Peace Corp or become involved in helping challenged teenagers.  Your new found charitable intent may need to be included in your estate plan. Sometimes larger estates can benefit from charitable trust planning for tax purposes.

Suffice to say, life changes of any nature often necessitate updates to your estate plan and it is advisable to explore what is needed at each pivotal stage of life.  A good rule of thumb is to ask your estate planning attorney to sit down with you every 2-5 years as a status.

Steve Gibbs, Esq.

This is an updated version of a previous post dated February 26, 2015. 




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