A comprehensive estate plan is the only way that you can ensure that your wishes and desires are carried out after your death. Through a will, trust agreements, beneficiary designations, and other estate planning tools, you can control who inherits your property after your death and under what terms your property is distributed to your heirs. Without a will, the Florida intestate laws control who receives your property and how the property is divided among your legal heirs. Some heirs, friends, and charities may not be eligible to receive property from your probate estate if you do not have a will at the time of your death.
Therefore, we urge you to contact our Gainesville probate attorney to discuss developing an estate plan. In addition, if you have experienced any major life events since your will was executed, you need to review your estate plan to make any necessary changes to ensure your plan continues to carry out your wishes for finalizing your finances after your death.
Call (352) 450-1367 to schedule a free consultation with our Gainesville probate attorney.
Common Life Events That May Trigger a Change in Your Estate Plan
It is a good practice to review your estate plan periodically to ensure that your plan continues to reflect your wishes and meets your goals for protecting property and heirs. However, certain life events might require an immediate change in your estate plan. Common examples of reasons why you need to review your estate plan include:
- Birth or Death of a Child — In most cases, your estate plan provides for your children, if they are living at the time you execute your estate documents. Therefore, if you have another child, including adopting a child, or one of your children passes away, you need to review the plan to make necessary changes. If you do not change your plan, your son-in-law could inherit a prized family heirloom that you may not want to pass to someone outside of your immediate bloodline.
- Marriage — Marriage is another event that requires a review of your estate plan. Spouses in Florida may have a statutory right to claim a portion of your estate. However, you need to discuss your options regarding a spouse's inheritance with a Gainesville probate attorney to determine the terms of your will and other estate documents.
- Divorce — If you become separated or divorced, you need to immediately contact your Gainesville estate planning attorney to discuss changes to your estate. A divorce does not terminate any provisions contained in your will or void any beneficiary designations. Therefore, if you do not change your beneficiaries or the terms in your will and trust agreements, your ex-spouse may inherit your entire estate or a substantial portion of your estate.
- Death of an Heir — As with the death of a child, the death of any heir should prompt a review of your estate plan. When an heir predeceases you, the share left to that heir typically passes to the deceased person's heirs. For example, if your daughter predeceases you, her share passes to her heirs. In the case of minor children, you may not want your son-in-law or another family member to control the inheritance left to your grandchildren. However, you may want your grandchildren to inherit their mother's portion of your estate. You can create a trust for your grandchildren as part of your estate to control how the inheritance is managed until your grandchildren reach a certain age.
- Bankruptcy Filings —When a person files bankruptcy, an inheritance could become subject to the bankruptcy estate if the person inherits money or property during the bankruptcy proceeding or within a certain period after the bankruptcy is complete. Therefore, if one of your heirs files for bankruptcy relief, you may want to review your estate plan with your Gainesville probate attorney to discuss options to protect inherited assets from that heir's creditors. You may be able to create a trust for the benefit of that heir to protect the assets until the bankruptcy case is closed and there is no threat of the court or creditors seizing inherited property or funds.
We all experience life events that can cause your estate plan to no longermeet your goals or needs. The key to ensuring that your property is protected, and your heirs are provided for within your estate plan is to review your plan after any major life event. However, we strongly urge you to review your estate plan periodically with our Gainesville probate attorneys.
Contact our Gainesville Probate Law Firm to Discuss Changes to Your Estate Plan
If you have questions about changes to your estate plan, we encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation with our Gainesville probate lawyer. Call The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (352) 450-1367 to schedule your free appointment with a Gainesville attorney.