Estate planning is simply planning for life. By using the right set of legal documents you can plan for minor children, grandchildren, protect your estate from probate, plan for your pets, businesses and more! Let’s look at the top five estate planning documents everyone should consider – what they are and why you should consider creating them today.
The last will and testament or “will” is a legal document that will describe who the beneficiaries of the estate are, what they are entitled to receive and who (the executor or personal representative) is responsible for ensuring these distributions take place. Your will may also include the names of guardians for any minor children. Unfortunately, relying on the will to take care of your estate after you are gone means that probate administration will be necessary. This is where the court will supervise the process of administering your estate. The benefit of having a will for this process is that it clearly sets out your wishes and intentions. Relying on Florida law alone will not always produce the same result so you must take action to put your wishes in writing.
The Florida Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you can appoint someone of your choosing as to handle financial affairs, assist with qualifying you for public benefits (such as Medicaid) and more. The individuals you are designating are called your ‘agents’ and will have broad powers to assist with many different aspects of your life. The document can be used during a time of your own incapacity but it is also in effect even when you have full mental and physical capacity. Without this document you could end up in a situation where the court appoints someone on your behalf (if you’re unable to care for your affairs on your own) and they may choose someone that you would not have.
A Florida Living Will is a document you prepare while you’re still healthy that tells your family and doctors whether you want to be put on life support if you become terminally ill, in an end stage condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. While looking ahead to such a terrible time may seem unpleasant, a living will is an important part of your end of life plans that gives your loved ones certainty.
A Health Care Surrogate is someone who makes health care decisions on behalf of you when you are unable to do so. This form, in conjunction with a Living Will, allows the person you chose to make educated medical decisions such as whether or not to keep you alive by use of artificial life support if an accident left you in a vegetative state.
A HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Authorization is a form used to direct a health care provider to disclose a copy of health information about an individual from the health care provider’s records to a third party. The person who fills out the HIPAA Authorization determines what information will be disclosed and which party the health care provider should disclose the health information to.
We prepare hundreds of plans for individuals and families across Florida. If you have questions about the estate planning process and would like to schedule a strategy session with our team, give us a call today. Once you have these documents in place, secure them as they are a valuable part of your legacy and find comfort in knowing you and your family are taken care of.
The Legacy Law Firm
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