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Strategies that can leave beneficiaries additional assets

One of the established goals of estate planning in Florida is to try and make sure that more of the testator's assets are left to his or her beneficiaries. That's because taxes, lingering debts and the probate process can be expensive and take a sizable chunk out of an estate's assets. But there are several ways to help minimize what the government and probate take from as estate. So here are several estate planning tips that can help leave more assets for a testator's beneficiaries.

One of the most obvious strategies is to make sure that the testator has a properly drawn up will. A recent survey of more than 2,000 Americans found that an astonishing 64 percent do not have a will. Even more alarming was that 17 percent of the people surveyed believed that they didn't need a will. However, the simple truth is that without a will, an estate must be properly divided up during the probate process. Without a will, this process can take longer which means that the beneficiaries of the estate may have to pay a bigger court bill.

Another important step that can leave more for a testator's beneficiaries is to make sure that documents such as insurance policies and retirement funds are properly updated. That's because investments such as these let the testator pass them directly to a beneficiary without having to go through probate. If the testator fails to name a beneficiary for these documents, then they will also have to go through the probate process along with the rest of the estate's assets. Another problem can arise if the testator has failed to update the beneficiaries to these documents after a life change. Failing to update these policies may mean that a former spouse receives the proceeds.

Many experts also believe it is wise to convert a traditional Individual Retirement Account to a Roth IRA. However, any Florida resident who is developing an estate plan may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to discover additional strategies that can help their beneficiaries.

Source: businessinsider.com, "5 estate planning strategies to keep your money in the family", Maryalene LaPonsie, Dec. 30, 2015

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