5 Reasons Not to Put Off Your Estate Plan
Many Florida residents have chosen to retire in the sunshine state to avoid cold winters and to partake in the host of sunny outdoors activities that are in such abundance here. People come from all over to enjoy the moderate temperatures and year-round accessibility of Florida’s beaches. Yet, every summer, many of these same Floridians will travel back north to be with family and see children and grandchildren. Many even maintain a home up north. While this can be a great way to take advantage of the “best of both worlds,” so to speak, some also put off important estate planning decisions until they are able to travel back up north to see their own attorneys back home. This can be a dangerous decision. Here are a few key reasons not to wait to talk to an attorney about your estate plan.
#1 – Attorneys change
Some seasonal Florida residents have waited through the winter so that they can travel back home to speak with their long-time attorneys, who, in many cases, have been representing them in many matters over the years. Perhaps their attorney was the person who helped them in their business or helped them through a brutal divorce 20 years earlier. In other cases, they already prepared an estate plan years ago. These can be just a few reasons why these seasonal residents might choose to go back to their prior lawyers for help with their new estate plan as they age. However, many times these lawyers have changed their practices, or they no longer handle the same volume of work. In fact, some have even discovered that their long-time lawyers have retired to Florida as well. It is always best to find a lawyer who is active and practices estate planning on a daily basis.
#2 – Attorneys practice based on state law
While some attorneys focus their practices on federal law, most are focused on matters of state law. Estate planning and elder law are generally based on state laws. Should you pass away in Florida as a Florida resident, your estate will likely go through Florida probate court. You will and other estate documents will be judged based on Florida law, regardless of where they were drafted. Therefore, you truly need an elder law attorney who understands Florida law and can advise you on how this state will handle your final affairs.
#3 – You may not make the trip
Many people put off estate planning until death or nursing home residency is practically inevitable. While this is a poor choice, it often means that by the time a person decides to finally meet with an attorney, he or she might be unable to make a long trip to Michigan, Ohio, or Maine. Therefore, these individuals may find themselves scrambling to find a local attorney to slap together a last minute plan. This is not the situation you want.
#4 – Only a local attorney knows Florida nursing homes
Most likely an attorney in a distant state will not be privy to unique local issues with Florida Medicaid or Florida nursing home regulations. Therefore, unless you plan to move away and return to your home state for long-term care, it is wise to consult a Florida elder law attorney.
#5 – Death waits for no man
As the old saying goes, death waits for no man. Many a people have failed to make proper arrangements because they thought they had more time. Even the healthiest 21-year-old cannot predict the date and hour of his or her death. Therefore, there is really no reason to put off estate planning, especially if you are aging. Do not put it off. Contact Eric Millhorn, a local, experienced Florida elder law attorney with offices throughout The Villages. There is no obligation, but it might just be the best decision you make this year.