As the New Year starts, people in Florida should take time to review and update their estate plan. The New Year can be used to review changes in personal circumstances, the law and other factors. This post will talk about a few items to consider during the review of your will, trust and other documents that make up your estate plan. The list of items is not comprehensive.

An important tool in an effective estate plan is to select a trusted person to act on your behalf in legal and financial matters in case you suffer an illness or disability that is incapacitating. A durable power of attorney can address that issue and will cover a period of time when you may not be able to handle your own legal and financial affairs.

A second point to consider is to update basic estate planning documents to ensure that identified sums going to individuals or a trust make use of current and anticipated estate tax exemptions. In the recent past, attorneys used phrases like “that portion,” “that fraction,” or “that amount” to create formulas that met rising exemptions. In the future the exemptions may go down and if the language is used in your will or living trust documents it may be time for an update.

New parents and parents who had children after the creation of their most recent estate planning documents should update those documents. A guardian should be identified for minor children or children with disabilities. Financial issues regarding the assistance of children should also be reviewed. Parents should also update estate planning documents if they have gone through a divorce.

Finally, beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and insurance policies should be reviewed. Retirement accounts are distributed according to selected beneficiaries and beneficiary selection forms are filed with the financial institution that holds the account. Be sure to select primary and alternative beneficiaries.