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Spring Cleaning for Your Legal and Financial Affairs


Spring has officially sprung and that means it’s spring cleaning time! Shake out the rugs, clean out the cupboards, and get your legal and financial affairs in order. For plenty of folks, it’s easy to know what to do when it comes to home organization, but the idea of getting their legal and financial affairs in order can be complex and confusing.

This article will give you a few places to start:

  1. Review Your Beneficiary Designations

Request updated beneficiary designation forms from your life insurance policies and retirement account custodians. Look at the form and identify whether you have the correct beneficiaries designated for both the primary and contingent beneficiaries, and if a minor is designated as either a primary or contingent beneficiary. If a minor is designated, those assets may be tied up in court unnecessarily. Further, the funds may not be available to the people you’ve named to care for your minor child or beneficiary.

Consider designating a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance and retirement accounts so that those assets can be distributed to such trust for the benefit of your minor beneficiaries or other heirs, providing court and creditor protection. This will also ensure your minor beneficiaries or other heirs do not inherit money before they are properly prepared.

  1. Update Your Asset Information and Location

At Kira Doyle Law, we create a Family Wealth Inventory & Asset Chart to assist our clients in documenting where the assets they own are located and how each asset is titled, so that in the event of incapacity or death, their family will know how to find their assets.

Without documenting and updating your assets regularly, your assets could be lost to the state department of unclaimed property. There is currently more than 1 billion dollars of unclaimed assets in the Florida State Department of Financial Services, Unclaimed Property Division, due to the fact that most people do not leave a clear written record of their assets at the time of their incapacity or death.

  1. Consider if You Need to Name New Guardians (Long or Short-Term)

Review your guardian nomination designations for your minor children. Have you named guardians for both the short-term (local) and the long-term (people you would trust to raise your children fully)? If so, do they need to be updated? Is there anyone you would wish to exclude? This is the time to check and make any necessary changes.

  1. Check Out the Title to Your Real Estate Properties

Review or obtain copies of the deeds to all of your real estate properties to ensure ownership is correct on each title. Make sure that your trust is listed as the current owner on the deeds for all investment, out-of-state and Florida non-homestead properties. If you see your individual name on any of these deeds, instead of your trust, you can be sure that would result in your property having to go through the court process of probate in the event of your death. If you do not want your loved ones going through the process of probate in the event of your death, now is the perfect time to review your deeds and spruce up your planning.

  1. Come In and Meet with Us for a Family Wealth Planning Session

Last, but far from least, this is the perfect time of  year to come in and meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, whether you’ve done planning in the past or not. We will have a 2-hour working meeting. This meeting will enable you to be financially and legally organized and give you the confidence of knowing you’ve made the most empowered, informed, and educated legal and financial decisions for the people you love.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of your “Spring Cleaning”, as described in this article, with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney at Kira Doyle Law, please call our office in St. Petersburg, FL, at (727) 537-6818.