Does a New Year Mean You and Your Spouse Need a New Estate Plan?


Did you know a new estate plan is not necessary simply because a new year has occurred? The Florida statutes do not require that a last will and testament or trust agreement be updated every so many years in order to remain valid. Existing wills or revocable trusts, however, may need to be reviewed each year to address additional planning that may become necessary due to your health changes, or those of your family members, that have occurred since the previous year. 

For example, if your spouse has become incapacitated or is now beginning to show signs of an early onset of dementia, a special needs trust may need to be included in the disabled spouse’s estate plan. A disability may also necessitate that spouse to name an agent under a durable power of attorney as well as a successor trustee to manage the assets of the disabled spouse. Otherwise, the assets intended to provide for the disabled spouse could be subject to management through a guardianship that would be restrictive and costly. 

Another example would be that of a widow or widower who may have remarried during the past year without a prenuptial agreement that limits the assets a second surviving spouse will receive when the first spouse dies. If a prenuptial agreement was not signed before marriage, it may be advisable for the recently married spouses to sign a postnuptial agreement waiving all or a portion of the deceased spouse’s assets. This can help ensure that the children of the first spouse to die may receive their deceased father’s or mother’s assets. Otherwise, the surviving spouse could receive a substantial share of the estate assets, as well as the deceased spouse’s homestead.

Further, a child may have divorced during the past year and the divorced child’s financial condition may have changed for the worse. The recently divorced child could benefit from an increase in his or her inheritance to purchase a replacement home that was sold as a result of the divorce or to provide for the college education or vocational training of the grandchildren.  This can all be planned and provided for through your updated estate planning.

Likewise, the continuing good health of the personal representative or trustee named by in your estate planning documents should periodically be reviewed. If the health of the personal representative or trustee is not good, an amendment to replace this person should be considered. 

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. There is never a wrong time for you to contact our office to schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns. We look forward to meeting with you and assisting you with your estate planning goals.