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Keep paperwork in order to distribute estate assets properly

Many Florida residents do not think they are old enough to worry about estate planning. Surprisingly, nearly 80 percent of aging Americans do not even consider themselves "old" until they reach age 80. Although we are living longer, more fulfilling and more exuberant lives, it is important to remember that you must have a plan to distribute estate assets as you reach your later years. Although you may have a very basic estate plan that includes a will, additional measures may be needed to ensure that your property is properly distributed after your death.

Different types of accounts require different paperwork to be included in an estate plan. Everyone who holds a traditional non-pension taxable bank account should remember to have a transfer-on-death form on file with the company that delineates who will receive the contents of the accounts. Unlike IRAs and other retirement holdings, these accounts actually receive a day-of-death cost analysis, so executors must understand how to fill out and file this paperwork. The executor of a will that includes such accounts must be sure to list the price of each investment on the individual's actual date of death. This commitment to detail may actually help those who are receiving the inheritances, as capital gains tax liability can be reduced if the asset lost value.

Although those accounts sound complicated, keep in mind that rules for IRAs and other retirement holdings can quickly become even more convoluted. It is critical to keep your beneficiary forms updated, as one family recently found out after a Supreme Court decision. A man died without changing his beneficiary forms for his IRA; instead of listing his current spouse, he named his ex-wife as the beneficiary. Since those forms override any other directives, the ex-wife received an unexpected windfall.

It is critical to ensure paperwork consistency throughout your estate planning documents. A qualified probate attorney can help Florida clients learn more about the specific forms and paperwork needed to ensure appropriate distribution of estate assets.

Source: www.journalnow.com, "Growing older: Simplifying inheritance for your heirs" Larry Hungerford, Dec. 08, 2013

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