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Making changes in estate plans

Florida residents may know that setting aside time to structure a viable estate plan allows an individual to provide security for his or her loved ones. It's important to plan for others to handle one's affairs in the event that one is incapacitated or dies.

When an individual first becomes emancipated at 18, their parents are no longer legally able to speak for them. However, at that age, the teenager may want their parent's involvement. Establishing a durable power of attorney naming one's parents as agents allows them to control financial situations if their child is unable to do so. Enabling proxy health care decisions gives a parent or other individua the ability to answer medical questions and take responsibility for medical choices. It is also important that doctors are able to speak with an agent; a release allowing the doctor to divulge private information is essential to have ahead of unforeseen events.

As time passes, it is possible that the decision to marry is made, and a period of engagement may ensue. Some couples choose to cohabitate without marriage. Either way, it may be necessary to rewrite one's will and powers of attorney to allow the other person to inherit and to assume responsibility in the case of incapacitation.

With marriage, it is necessary to rewrite wills and trust agreements. If this is left undone, a spouse may inherit only a portion of one's estate despite building a life together. Without changing power of attorney agreements, a spouse may be legally unable to handle jointly owned or separately owned property.

During periods of change, it is important to revise one's estate plan. Gaining the insight of an attorney may be beneficial in receiving guidance to structure a plan that fits one's circumstances.

Source: Bankrate, "8 life stages of estate planning", G.M. Filisko, Jan. 9, 2015

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