It is impossible to know what lies ahead of us in the future. Therefore, one should be prepared for unexpected events with a solid estate plan. Structuring a well-founded estate plan requires a strategic approach, especially to select the legal tools (documents) that will be part of that.
Ideally, anyone interested in crafting the perfect estate plan should consult with an expert estate planning attorney for an individual assessment. In this article, you will find out the essential estate planning documents in Florida.
What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need in Florida? – Proven Methods Only
Last Will and Testament
The will is the core of a solid estate plan. In the will, you can outline how your estate should be distributed upon death, who is entitled to a share of the estate, and who will serve as your personal representative.
Also, one may use a will to designate who should serve as a guardian for minor children or a person with special needs.
When someone dies without a will in Florida, the decedent’s estate is considered «intestate». Therefore, the court adjudicating the case will administer the estate under Florida intestacy laws, which is usually a long and stressful process for those involved.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which the trust maker (referred to as trustor or grantor) transfers the title of property to a trustee (fiduciary) to protect the interest(s) of a beneficiary.
In Florida, there are two main types of trusts – revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. Revocable trusts may be modified, amended, or revoke, whereas irrevocable trusts do not accept changes or modifications (unless under a court order).
When the trustor dies, the assets held in the trust are automatically distributed to their rightful beneficiaries by the trustee. As the assets held in trust are not considered the trustor’s property, they are not subject to probate.
Power of Attorney
Primarily used for financial decisions, a power of attorney is a legal document in which you (the principal) may designate a person to act on your behalf (an agent or attorney-in-fact).
Hence, if the principal becomes incapacitated, the agent (or attorney-in-fact) immediately steps in to handle all the principal’s decision-making, such as handling bank accounts, signing checks, selling or buying property, managing assets, and filing taxes.
Depending on the type of power of attorney, an agent may be given broader or limited authority to handle the principal’s finances. In this regard, the guidance of an expert attorney is crucial.
An essential tool in a well-crafted estate plan, a living will is a legal document wherein an individual is allowed to specify his/her medical preferences for life-extending care and end-of-life care.
Generally, the effectiveness of a living will begins at the moment the person who created the document is alive but completely unable to communicate, such as a terminal or end-stage medical condition.
Health Care Surrogate Designation
Considered one of the most important legal tools for estate planning, health care surrogate designations permit an individual (the principal) to designate a person (the agent) to handle all personal medical affairs on his/her behalf in case of incapacitation (permanent or temporary).
For example, a health care surrogate designation may be used in a case where the person is still alive and recovering from a complex surgery, remaining under the heavy influence of pain medication.
Immediately Contact an Expert Estate Planning Attorney
Life is unpredictable, hence every second counts. If you want to create a solid estate plan, contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.