Did you know that every year during the third week of October we focus on National Estate Planning Awareness week? How familiar are you with estate planning in Florida? Did you know estate planning involves putting legal protections in place to help secure a future you want for yourself and your loved ones? These protections can bring peace of mind in a world of uncertainties. We find that this holds especially true as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Every Florida estate plan should include two key things: incapacity planning for during your lifetime and after death planning. Let us begin with the former. Incapacity planning allows for considerations, such as having someone you have selected assist you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The most important tools for incapacity planning may include:
1. A Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney allows an agent you appoint to manage your financial affairs and other specified matters. The fact that it is durable means the power will survive even in the event that you become incapacitated.
2. Health Care Planning Tools. Different individuals have different needs. You and your estate planning attorney can choose health care planning tools that can allow you to designate a selected individual to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
3. Living Will. A living will allows you to indicate what kinds of end-of-life care you do and do not want should you be incapacitated and in a terminal medical situation.
Now let’s discuss the after death planning you need. This is what most potential clients who come to our firm for a meeting are more familiar with at the beginning. In fact, the last will and testament may be the most common legal document for estate planning. It becomes effective after you have passed away and directs the distribution of your property at the time of your death. Through your will, you may appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your assets.
In the absence of a will in Florida, the probate court may need to decide who should oversee the distribution of your assets, and who will take care of your children. State intestate laws may dictate how your assets are distributed and we find that this often does not reflect what your wishes actually are or they are not reflective of the legacy you wish to create. By contrast, a revocable trust agreement can be a tool that can be used both for incapacity planning and for your estate after you pass away. This estate planning tool can also help maintain privacy and ensure that your wishes are followed both during end-of-life and after you pass.
Whether it is in the month of October or anytime throughout the year our law firm is here to help you. We can guide you and your family through your Florida estate planning options. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule a meeting with our experienced Florida attorneys.