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Ongoing will and estate planning to keep current

While many Florida residents understand the importance of drafting wills, they may not realize that once these documents have been written, certain events should prompt reviews and updates. Family circumstances and makeup change overtime, as do certain laws that may be applicable.

When people undergo a major familial change, such as a divorce, a remarriage or the birth of additional children or grandchildren, their wills should be reviewed and updated accordingly. If it isn't, their assets may pass to a former spouse, or they may accidentally exclude a new child or grandchild from inheriting.

When a testator's children don't have children of their own, the testator should update the will to add a charity as a contingent beneficiary. This is helpful in the unfortunate event that their children die before the testator. A review and update is also in order if testators wish to change how their assets will be distributed to reflect that. Many people who had sizable estates used bypass trusts in their wills because of their estates exceeding the federal exclusion amount for estate taxes. That amount has risen considerably, meaning people who have estates worth less than $5.45 million, which is the 2016 exemption, no longer need to use bypass trusts. They should be removed from wills for estates under the exclusion amount as they are expensive and unwieldy.

Because laws frequently change, it may be a good idea for people to meet with their estate planning attorney on a fairly regular basis to make certain their will is still current and reflective of their needs as well as the law. In addition to their will, people may also want to learn about how a power of attorney can be useful in the event that they become incapacitated and unable to make financial or health care decisions on their own.

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