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The One Estate Planning Mistake Couples Often Make

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When discussing their future and creating estate planning documents, couples often rely on each other in implementing any plans, while inheriting all proceeds from their partner’s estate. This is based on the notion that one of them will predecease the other, and it fails to factor in the chance that an accident might involve them both.

While tragedies such as fatal fires, plane crashes, or violent attacks are fortunately not common, the odds that both of you would be together in the event of a life-threatening event, such as a car accident, do exist. While naming each other exclusively to inherit or to carry out final arrangements is a common mistake, it is one that can be easily corrected.

Planning For Accidents Involving Both You and Your Spouse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidental injuries impact more than 28 million people each year in the U.S., and prove fatal for over 136,000 others. While motor vehicle accidents are the most common causes of accidental death and injuries, other causes include falls, fires, and poisoning.

In planning for the unexpected, married couples need to realistically look at the amount of time they spend together, and the likelihood both would be present in the event an accident occurred. Even if their injuries did not prove to be fatal, there is the chance that both spouses could be left incapacitated. To play it safe in your estate plan, the following are five changes to consider:

  1. List someone other than your spouse as your personal administrator or trustee.

Either instead of or in addition to naming your partner to administer your will or to manage funds held in trust, consider naming an outside party you can trust.

  1. Establish payable on death accounts.

Filling out a payable on death form at your bank will give a friend or relative access to funds to pay expenses in the event of your death, rather than having to wait for Florida probate court proceedings.

  1. Specify additional beneficiaries in your will and on life insurance policies.

Instead of naming your spouse as your sole beneficiary, you can add language that bequeaths assets to others in the event of mutual death.

  1. Provide instructions for care of young children or disabled adults.

If you have young children or are the guardian of disabled adult or child, you will want to make sure they are provided for in the event you and your spouse are unable to do so.

  1. Provide an alternate for financial and health care power of attorney.

Naming an alternate to make financial and health care decisions on your behalf in the event you and your spouse are involved in an accident together ensures your wishes are provided for.

Reach Out to Us for Help Today

For help in creating estate planning documents or to update plans currently in place, contact Hancock & Associates, P.A. While contemplating the potential for accidents is unpleasant, our goal is to ensure that the interests of you and those you love are protected in all circumstances. Call or contact us online to request a consultation in our office in Orlando or Tampa today.

Resources:

cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm

flcourts.org/resources-and-services/family-courts/family-law-self-help-information/probate.stml

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