Securing Your Family’s Financial Future
Estate Planning is the process of creating a plan for healthcare and financial decision making when you are alive, and a plan for what will happen to your assets and property when you pass away. If you are an adult, you need to consult with an attorney about what Estate Planning documents you need.
Yes, EVERY adult needs some documents. Even adults who do not own anything need to have healthcare documents that determine who will step in to make their healthcare decisions if they are unable to. If you are an adult that owns assets/property and/or has a child, even more reason to have an Estate Plan.
What are some of the common estate planning documents?
When we assist a client with their Estate Plan, generally we discuss and create the documents below:
Revocable Living Trust and/or Last Will & Testament:
Depending on your age, income, assets/property, and family situation, you will need one of these documents or both. These documents outline what you want to occur with your assets/property at the time of your death. Your Last Will & Testament will also state who you want to be appointed as guardian of your minor children. If you have a Trust, you will also always have a Last Will & Testament. Trusts can be joint (created by more than one (1) individual. Will’s are individual and exclusive to each individual.
The most frequent question that we receive in regards to these documents is….”Why do I need either of these if I do not own anything and have no children.” There is always something you own! Even if it is a bank account or personal property such as the contents of your home, or jewelry. In addition, people generally add assets/property as time goes on. These documents will help you plan for your present situation and future vision. If you do not indicate how you want your assets/property to be distributed, you will die intestate (without a Will) and the courts will decide for you.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate:
Every adult should have this document. It is the document that indicates who will step in and make your health care decisions if you cannot or do not want to make your own decisions. This document can be used in an emergency situation, during a surgical procedure, and/or for care during an illness.
Every adult should have this document. It is the document that states your wishes and determines who will step in and effectuate your wishes in regards to being kept alive when on life support. Most individuals choose not to be kept alive artificially by machines.
Durable Power of Attorney
This allows someone to step in and make your financial decisions for you when you want or need them to. Many spouses have this document handy in case it one not available to be present during a financial transaction. Many elderly individuals need this document to allow a loved one or trusted individual to assist them with paying bills and dealing with their finances and real property.
Designation of Preneed Guardian:
This designates who you wish to be the guardian of your person or property if you are deemed incompetent or are unable to make your own decisions. This document can help prevent a guardianship proceeding. This document is generally requested by many elderly individuals.
What information will I need to provide?
In order to assist with an Estate Plan, we will inquire about a client’s assets/property and approximate values. We will not need specific statements. We will also ask a client for names, addresses, and phone numbers of individuals that will be included in their Trust/Will and who will make financial and/or healthcare decisions. This can be accomplished in person, via phone, pr via electronic communication.
Do I have to use an attorney for my estate planning documents?
Even if you already have Estate Planning documents, it is a good idea to have an attorney review them periodically to ensure no changes need to be made. We attempt to draft documents where minimal changes, if any, will be necessary. However, there are many events that will require changes to your documents such as- moving to another state, a change in employment, a marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, and more. We suggest that an attorney review your documents every few years….more frequently if you have experienced a life-changing event.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Estate planning can provide multiple benefits for you and your loved ones later in life or after your passing.
Estate Planning can also aid in limiting tax consequences for you and your beneficiaries. Although there is no Estate Tax in the State of Florida and the Federal Estate Tax threshold is very high ($11.58 million dollars), a good Estate Plan minimizes the other fees your Estate will have to pay and taxes your beneficiaries will have to pay based on the proceeds they receive. Most individuals strive to develop an Estate Plan where there will be limited court intervention, fees, and costs.
Developing an Estate Plan can also assist in preparing for various other scenarios that most people do not think of. Some of these scenarios include but are not limited to: Care for your pet(s), gifting special items to specific individuals, donations to charitable organizations, control of funds designated to individuals for a specific length of time, and more.
Plan Today for a Happier Tomorrow
Contact us today and our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you plan and have the peace of mind that you deserve!