Checklist for your 2017 Estate Planning New Years Resolution


Now is the best time to sit down with an estate planning attorney to create or review your estate plan. 

If you do not have an estate plan yet, it so crucial that you do.  You do not need to have a large estate to benefit from estate planning.  The benefit of planning for death or incapacity is not for your benefit, it is a gift for your family.  This way, when times get tough, you have made matters a little easier for them.

One of the biggest problems we see with individuals who already have estate plans is failure to keep the plan updated to ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of your dynamic family. Here is a short checklist:

  1. Marriage/Divorce.Has there been a marriage, divorce, or separation of anyone named in your will or trust – such as your adult children or grandchildren?  Most persons want to ensure that their hard earned money goes to their children – or grandchildren –  not to any spouses or former spouses.  How about yourself?  Are you in the process of getting divorced?  If something were to happen to you prior to the divorce becoming final, you estate can go to your current spouse... something you probably do not want to have happen.  Further, you need to change your fiduciaries as well.
  2. New Births Of Children/Grandchildren.  Has there been a birth or adoption of a child or grandchild?  First, if so, congratulations!  Second, this child may need to be added as a beneficiary of your will or trust with detailed instructions to make sure all funds are wisely spent first for education or health needs.
  3. Discord in Family. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases where family warfare breaks out among the children where the father, mother, or both are no longer around to maintain peace.   To avoid such disharmony, it is important to have clear instructions in your living trust and a strong, independentsuccessor trustee with good peace making skills.  
  4. Disability of beneficiary. Have any of the persons you have named as a beneficiary suffered any type of mental or physical disability?  If so, it may be necessary to modify your instructions to make sure any funds designated for this beneficiary are used in the most effective way possible.  For example, if a beneficiary may be entitled to receive SSI or other government benefits, this beneficiary may need a Special Needs Trust.
  5. Poor Money Managers in the Family. Are any children not good money managers?  Do you need to amend your trust instructions to make sure these funds are protected and cannot be grabbed by their creditors? 
  6. Successor Trustee or other Fiduciary.This is the person you have appointed to step into your legal shoes if you become incapacitated – in other words, one of the most important decisions you can make.  Who have you appointed to take charge if you are incapacitated?  What is the order of succession of trustees?  Do more successors need to be added?  Do the successors need to be changed?

At Grimaldi Law Firm, these are all questions that we can help you answer.  We wish you a happy new year with all the health, wealth and happiness for you and your family!

Grimaldi Law Firm: Property. Planning. Protection.

About the Author:  Melinda Grimaldi is an attorney in Hollywood, Florida, whose practice is concentrated in the areas of commercial and residential real estate and estate planning law.  She can be reached at (954) 491-8707 or

Special Note

The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.