In Estate Planning

Depending on the circumstance, your neighbor may be correct. Not every life change warrants that you make updates to your will, but there are certain instances where you want to talk to your estate planning attorney to make sure your will is current. For instance, if you’ve lost a loved one, got married, or are recently divorced, then you most definitely want to update your last will, your trust (if you have one), your durable power of attorney and any other important legal documents in order to reflect these life changes.

Your last will, trust and beneficiary designations should always reflect a new spouse or remove a former one. An oversight of not updating your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations can result in unnecessary headaches later on for you and your heirs. Not only should you update your will and trust, but also review your durable power of attorney, health care surrogate and living will. Florida’s power of attorney laws were revised in October 2011, and your power of attorney may find themselves unable to exercise authority in order to take care of your finances if you haven’t updated this document after Oct. 2011.

Another important aspect to know, since we have many seniors who relocate to Florida from northern states, is that your documents may be valid, despite moving from one State to another.  Florida law provides that out of state documents are valid, so long as they were validly executed according to the State laws at that time.

Although I do recommend making sure that updates take place over time as your life changes, depending on the wording of your will or trust you may not need to update those documents every time. For example, if your will makes mention of your descendants, but not specific children by name, then your will may not need to be updated. However, it’s always a good idea to double check with your attorney. In fact, you should see a Florida licensed attorney every couple of years to review any changes in your life. They are the experts on whether your documents or beneficiary designations need to be revised.

The best thing to keep in mind, is that it’s always easier to make changes or updates to these documents prior to when you actually need them. It’s much harder to make changes once you’re already in a crisis. As the motto at Hampton Law goes, “Plan today, for peace of mind tomorrow.”

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