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Aventura Corporate Center
20801 Biscayne Boulevard
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Miami, FL 33180

305-932-2293 Miami-Dade County
954-760-7077 Broward County

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Keep beneficiary lists up to date - or else!

Legislative reforms have raised the ceiling for the federal estate tax to $5.25 million for individuals and $10.5 million for businesses. With these changes, many Florida residents have been able to limit the scope and reach of their estate plans; after all, not many Americans keep so much in the bank or other assets. Even though you might not need to worry about the federal estate tax during your personal estate planning, you definitely need to be concerned about beneficiary designations. Without this critical information, your will cannot be properly processed after your death, which could lead to significant legal problems.

What kinds of assets require beneficiaries? In general, consider any type of account as eligible for a beneficiary designation. Checking, brokerage, 529 savings and IRA accounts all require beneficiaries. Filling out the form to designate a beneficiary is generally as easy as adding the person's name, social security number, phone number and address. Recovering from an estate where beneficiaries are absent, however, can be anything but easy.

If you are divorced, for example, and you have failed to change your beneficiary designations, your ex-spouse could end up inheriting much of the money left in your estate. Life insurance policies only pay out to the designated beneficiary. Imagine the horror that some families go through when they realize that their inheritance has been given to the wrong party. For this reason, it is critical to change your beneficiaries as quickly as possible after a major life event. If you are going through a divorce, simply make the changes along with the rest of the paperwork. That way, you can be sure that your assets will be transferred to your children or other heirs instead of your ex.

Estate planning is not a simple process even for those with estates that appear simple. Qualified probate attorneys can help guide clients through the planning process to guarantee that their wishes come to fruition after their deaths.

Source: www.marketwatch.com, "Don't make this common estate-planning error" Bill Bischoff, Sep. 17, 2013

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