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Estate plans to protect loved ones

Florida residents who do not want to rely on the rules of intestacy may decide to complete a comprehensive estate plan. Wills help individuals determine to whom to leave their material possessions. Without them, the decedent's assets will be distributed in accordance with state intestacy laws. Very often spouses receive all or most of the estate under those laws. This result may not be desired in all cases, such as when a person is newly married and has children from a previous relationship that he or she wants to provide for. If there is no spouse, children may inherit, followed by descendants and then other relatives.

Benefitspro.com reports that 45 percent of Americans have no financial plans in place. However, taking some steps to protect one's financial interests can save unnecessary worry. A power of attorney can be established to designate a person who can make financial decisions and transactions on another person's behalf if he or she is outside the country or otherwise not available. A medical power of attorney provides a specifically designated person the right to make medical decisions on another person's behalf.

One of the most important documents that a person can make is a will, and creating an inventory of possessions can help a person remember which items he or she has. However, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners says that 48 percent of families do not have such a list. This type of list can also help for insurance purposes.

Florida attorneys may be able to assist clients interested in learning estate planning principles. They may be able to assist in the preparation of wills, trusts and powers of attorney.

Source: Mainstreet, "Estate Planning Horrors: Don't Let Strangers Snatch Your Inheritance", Juliette Fairley, October 26, 2013

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