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Simple estate planning steps that can provide real benefits

Most Florida estate planning experts agree that Floridians do not need to be wealthy to enjoy the benefits of a good estate plan. A good estate plan can help ensure that all of the testator's wishes are properly carried out. However, it also does not matter if the testator is a financial mogul or only has more modest resources. There are still certain steps that everyone can take to help ensure that their wishes are carried out.

One of the first steps a testator can do is to clearly identify what their goal of estate planning is. Too often, individuals do not have a specific idea in mind for their estate plan, and this can result in confusion and potential legal issues for their beneficiaries.

Experts agree that the testator should know exactly what he or she wants to do with their estate. Whether it is leaving their assets to their spouse and children, grandchildren or leaving it to a charity.

Another good estate planning step to take is for the testator to have a firm understanding of exactly what assets they do possess. Many individuals may not consider documents, such as an insurance policy as an estate asset, but that is what they are. Testators should have documentation for all their assets, including business interests, bonds, stocks, real estate and all personal possessions, such as collectibles and jewelry.

Testators should also develop their estate plan, so that it can avoid probate. The process of probate is necessary to make sure that the testator left a valid will, and that his or her assets and debts are properly identified and assessed.

This can become an expensive and time consuming process. Nonetheless, certain types of estate planning documents, such as life insurance proceeds, trusts and payable-on-death accounts can avoid the probate process entirely, thereby preserving more of an estate's assets for their beneficiaries.

It is very important for individuals to develop a smart and flexible estate plan. But, any Florida resident who wants to find out more about estate planning may want to speak to an estate planning attorney to find out what types of estate planning documents can benefit their beneficiaries the most.

Source: BankRate.com, "5 wise estate planning steps," accessed on April 16, 2016

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