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How to ensure an accessible estate plan

Individuals in Florida who are estate planning should keep in mind that how they prepare their loved ones is as important as how they prepare the documents related to their estate. Family members may be unwilling to discuss estate plans, bad at organization or uninformed about finances. All of these qualities may contribute to difficulty in carrying out an individual's wishes, even when the will and other documents are correctly prepared.

As a result, it is important for an individual who is estate planning to create an easy-to-follow plan for loved ones. One approach might be to leave copies of all important documents with an estate planning attorney. This ensures that when an individual dies, a professional has access to all the important papers.

There are limits to the amount of information an individual should leave with an estate planner. For example, they should avoid granting full power of attorney or leaving passwords with the attorney. This does not indicate a lack of trust in the attorney; rather, it may just be unclear who has access to their office. Close relatives should still be kept involved in the process, and it is important to leave clear instructions about how to contact the attorney or whoever is entrusted with the documents.

An attorney may also be helpful in drawing up the numerous estate planning documents. For example, an individual may have a spouse and three adult children. One of the adult children may be disabled in some way. In addition to a will, an individual may want to set up a living will, a trust and a power of attorney. The trust might be set up to provide income for the disabled child. The living will and power of attorney may protect the individual and their assets in case of incapacitation.

Source: Forbes, "The Single Most Important -- And Unconventional -- Estate Planning Tip You Will Ever Get," Charles Sizemore, March 19, 2015

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