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Estate planning is important for Florida residents

Whatever stage of life they are at, Florida residents should make sure that their estates are in order. This ensures that their wishes are carried out after death. It also makes one aspect of losing a loved one less stressful for the family.

The first step in estate planning is to assemble all the needed financial information. How it is done is less important than making sure that someone has been informed that it was done and told where it can be found. The documentation should also be kept in a safe place although a safety deposit box may be too difficult to access for it to be a practical solution. Family members need to be able to get to this information quickly and easily after an individual's death.

The will and any trust documents are the two most important items in estate planning. Contact details for the attorney and executor should be included with the will. If an individual dies without leaving a will, the estate goes into probate. This can drag on for years and cost the estate around 5 percent of its assets.

It is also important to leave information about all accounts and how to access them including passwords for online accounts. Also important are access to tax returns as well as information about utilities, pensions and various types of insurance. Naming another person on accounts can provide better access and prevent family from having to use their own money to cover bills. Another person also needs to be given access to safes and safety deposit boxes.

Individuals planning the disposition of their estate may want to consult with an attorney. Estate planning attorneys may be able to assist with how to compile and store all the necessary documents.

Source: TIME, "Want Less Stress? Get Your Estate Plan In Order", Beth Pinsker, July 15, 2014

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