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In a matter of days, we’ll be entering a new year and 2014 will be a part of history. However, it’s still early enough in December for you to consider or update your Florida estate planning before the new year.

There are reasons why you should, legally. For instance, some laws change on January 1, 2015, that may impact your estate plan.

One example that may not impact lots of Floridians, but is a big deal to those with a significant estate, is the change to the Federal Unified Estate And Gift Tax Exemption. The Federal Unified Estate and Gift Tax exemption jumps to $5.43M/person on January 1, 2015.

Granted, most Floridians do not have taxable estates and don’t need to worry about federal estate taxation — but if you do, then this change is something to consider in your estate plan before New Year’s Eve.

2014 End of Life Estate Plan Considerations

Aside from federal gift tax implications, other things to consider for year-end estate planning are things like:

1. The Beneficiaries Named in Your Retirement Accounts

Is everyone listed as a beneficiary that you want to be there? Do you want to add a new child or grandchild?

2. The Beneficiaries Named in Your Insurance Policies

Who is the primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy (or policies)? Is this still best scheme for you? Do you have your estate listed as a beneficiary — and is this wise?

3. Charity Donations

For income tax deductions, you need to make your charitable contributions before year-end.

4. Gifts To Avoid Federal Gift Tax

In 2014, you can gift up to $14,000 per person to as many folk as you deem fit and there will be no federal gift tax. It goes up to $28,000 if you’re not married.

5. Think About a 529 Education Plan

With this plan, you can make 5 years of gifts in one year’s time for future expenses related to education.

Estate Planning Is For Everyone

Remember, estate planning is for everyone — and young people (including new or expectant parents) as well as established couples and independent seniors are well served by having an end of life legal plan established in the event of their passing. It’s not as complicated as it seems, and many already have begun an end of life estate plan without realizing it.

Do you have life insurance? Then you’ve already begun an end of life estate plan!

It’s important to have a plan for what happens to your property when you die. If you die without the basics of an estate plan in place, then your loved ones and survivors can be harmed.

For one thing, the State of Florida’s intestacy statutes will decide who gets what — and that may go against your wishes and what is fair in your family situation. If you have minor children or beloved pets, then who will take care of them when you die? It’s important for their protection to have that decision and end of life plan in place.

Other Things That Might Be Part of Your Estate Plan

Most people will have wills and life insurance policies as part of their estate plan; however, Florida law provides for many other protections for people and their estates, such as:

  • Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Medical Waiver
  • Health Care Surrogate
  • Living Will
  • Trusts

Having a basic plan in place gives you peace of mind and provides not only for a smooth transition for your property, but also provides protections for your children, your pets, and your spouse. Taxes that would otherwise be due and payable to the federal government can be legally avoided with an estate plan.  Estate planning is for every adult, not just for older Americans.