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Protect assets by titling them accordingly

Without a doubt, a living will is an important document and one that estate planning specialists would recommend to anyone over the age of 18. However, when it comes time for the government to distribute estate assets, it looks at how the assets are titled and not what a will specifies.

Because of this, individuals in Florida and across the country should pay special attention to beneficiaries of their assets like IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance policies, etc. This is especially true after life-changing events such as a marriage or divorce. During such times, beneficiaries for assets will likely change, but they will not change in the eyes of the law unless assets are titled appropriately. After getting married, you may specify in a will that you would like your new husband or wife to receive the assets of a 401(k) when you pass away, but unless they are listed as the beneficiary, that will not happen.

Oftentimes, single individuals list their parents as beneficiaries of their assets and forget to change it when they get married. If these individuals pass away, their parents will receive their assets instead of their husband or wife. A good rule of thumb to keep these matters current is to reassess your estate after any life-changing event.

Do not trust others to determine the fate of your assets, experts say. You know better than anyone how you would like them allocated, so title them appropriately. Not only will you get to make the decision, but distributing the assets will be more stress-free as they will likely bypass probate proceedings.

Source: Smart Business, "How to make sure that your assets end up where you want them after your death," Dec. 1, 2011

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