Tips From Stetson Law Estate Planning Professionals

JUST DO IT!

"If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Don't procrastinate. Put an estate plan in place to best preserve your assets and ensure that your wishes are properly executed."

Tamara Felton-Howard, J.D./ MBA ’97

 

IT’S MORE THAN A WILL OR TRUST

“Estate planning does not begin and end with a Will or Trust. Titling bank accounts, real property, and personal property with survivorship language can limit or negate the need for probate. Having things properly titled will save your loved ones from potential delays in accessing accounts or selling assets after you pass.”

J. Cole Brewer, J.D. ’16

 

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

“Make sure that you discuss your wishes and preferences with the people you intend to name as your personal representative(s), and agents under your advance directives. By taking the time to discuss these things with the people you intend on naming in your estate plan you can help make things easier for them when the time comes for them to act on your behalf.”

Javier A. Centonzio, J.D. ‘12, LL.M. ’14

 

3 MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

“Estate planning is not just about transferring your assets when you die, it’s about protecting yourself, your family, and your assets while you’re alive. That’s why everyone 18 years old or older needs a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Health Care Surrogate. The last three documents are more important than your Will because they are living documents.” 

Adam T. Rauman, J.D. ’09

 

DON’T FORGET BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS

“Don’t forget that beneficiary designations and joint accounts trump the language of your will or trust. The titling of your accounts matters in terms of inheritance rights, creditor protection, and rights to access.”

Kellen Bryant, J.D. ’07

 

REMEMBER YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS

"Include language in your will, trust, and durable power of attorney allowing your fiduciaries to access your digital assets and other electronically stored information, such as social media accounts, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, digital music, and photos uploaded to cloud storage."

Adam A. Czaya, J.D. ’11

 

LADY BIRD DEED

“If you are planning for the future regarding your home, consider a “Lady Bird Deed” or “Enhanced Life Estate” which would avoid probate but also allow you to retain the ability to utilize the financial benefits of your home to its fullest extent.”

D.J. Fredericks, J.D. ’10

 

REVIEW OFTEN

“Do not “set and forget” your estate plan. An estate plan should be reviewed whenever there is a major life change (birth, death, marriage, divorce) for any person named in your plan documents or a change in your financial situation – or, if none of those events have happened, at least every five years. Having an outdated plan that no longer meets your goals can be as detrimental as having no plan at all!”

Erica Smith, J.D. ’07

 

MAKE A LIST

“Make a list of all of your accounts, where they are, the account and/or policy numbers, as well as the approximate value.  Keep this among your estate documents and review it annually (maybe when you're doing your taxes). Taking this step will help ensure that your hard-earned assets end up in the hands of those you love rather than in the unclaimed funds registry at the state.”

Bobby King, J.D./MBA ’10