Florida Estate Planning Checklist [2024 Updated]

Mar 02, 2024

Along with saving for retirement, maintaining a life insurance policy, and other crucial precautions, completing a Florida estate planning checklist should be a top priority. Working with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney can simplify the process. At the Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., we can demystify the estate planning process for our clients.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning encompasses a wide range of legal document drafting, the creation of fiduciary agreements, and other steps that help people prepare for the unexpected.

Many people associate estate planning with end-of-life circumstances, but your estate plan will account for situations where you are incapacitated due to an accident, illness, or advanced age, as well. Your estate plan, for example, could designate someone to make decisions on your behalf through a power of attorney.

Estate planning also assigns heirs and beneficiaries who will inherit your assets and property when you pass. Having a will or trust in place clarifies what your wishes are for those divisions of your estate.

Estate planning does not have to be complicated, and you do not need to be wealthy to benefit from estate planning. The process should begin early in adulthood and be revisited throughout your life as your estate grows and your estate planning goals evolve.

What Should Be on My Florida Estate Planning Checklist?

Your estate planning attorney can listen to your goals before analyzing your estate and drafting a Florida estate planning checklist. For individuals who are younger or have small estates, a clearly drafted and executed will should be an important item on your checklist.

A Will

In Florida, a will has to be written and executed in a particular way to be valid in the eyes of the court. The language in your will should be clear and unambiguous. Your attorney will help you write your will in a way that describes what property and which assets go to whom. Probate courts designate spouses, children, and even surviving parents as heirs, but you can list a non-relative as a beneficiary of your estate.

Also, you are not obligated to list every descendant or relative as an heir if you do not want to. By adding a testamentary trust, you can add guidelines for how the inheritance can be spent by an heir or beneficiary.

Power of Attorney

Another priority for your estate planning checklist should be a power of attorney. This powerful document bestows legal authority from one person to another. The grantor of the power (principal) delegates authority to an agent. The agent can then make important decisions on behalf of the principal in the event that the principal is incapacitated or dies.

This could be useful in cases where someone is temporarily incapacitated due to an accident. Advanced age or illness could lead to the need for the agent to take longer-term control over an estate.


A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that designates a trustee to hold assets for a beneficiary until the beneficiary reaches a certain age or the estate owner dies. The assets listed on the trust will then be transferred to the beneficiary. This process circumvents the probate courts entirely. As long as the trust is created by a qualified attorney, the courts cannot interfere with the terms of the trust.

Healthcare Surrogates

As part of your estate planning checklist, your lawyer can help you designate a healthcare surrogate. This individual, who can be a trusted friend or relative, is delegated powers to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Benefits of Estate Planning

By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a checklist that achieves your goals. Estate planning adds a level of certainty following an unexpected event. Your family will have documents to refer to that describe your intentions.

Rather than having to rely on probate courts, which can take months or years to resolve issues, your family will be able to settle your estate efficiently and follow the plan that you lay out. Your inheritance will go to the relatives and beneficiaries that you choose.


Q: What Are the Five Most Important Estate Planning Documents?

A: The five most important estate planning documents are generally considered to be a will, trust, power of attorney, medical directives, and beneficiary designations. However, every client has unique estate planning needs. Some clients will not need all of these documents and fiduciary agreements, while others may need more. Of the top five most important documents, having a will is the most crucial.

Q: What Is the Average Cost of Estate Planning in Florida?

A: Estate planning may cost several hundred dollars if you need a special task completed. Compressive planning could come with a fee of a few thousand. Once your estate plan is prepared, updating your documents becomes simple and straightforward. The total fee for your estate planning is largely dependent on the time and resources that your attorney puts into completing the estate planning.

Q: Do I Need an Estate Plan in Florida?

A: You are not legally required to have an estate plan in place, but it is highly advisable to do so. The documents and agreements prepared by your estate planning lawyer can save your family considerable time and money if you become incapacitated or die. Without an estate plan in place, the probate court will divide your estate based on intestate laws.

Q: What Is Exempt from Probate in Florida?

A: There are certain assets that are exempt from going through probate court. Anything that was gifted during the deceased person’s lifetime does not go through probate. Jointly held land owned by two spouses would be transferred to the surviving spouse. Assets listed in a trust would transfer to the designated beneficiary upon the death of the trustor.

Schedule Your Florida Estate Planning Checklist Today

The Law Office of Douglas A. Oberdorfer, P.A., is here to help you complete your Florida estate planning checklist. With an initial investment of time, you can lay the groundwork for the future and provide guidance and resources to your loved ones in the event that you pass. Life inevitably comes with uncertainties, but where your property and assets go after you die should not be one of them. Contact our office today so we can begin guiding you through your estate planning checklist.

Recent Posts



How Can We Help You?

Contact The Firm Today

Reach Out Today For Clarity, Guidance And Support

Fields marked with an “*” are required

"*" indicates required fields

I Have Read The Disclaimer
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.