If you’re getting to a stage in your life where you are thinking about putting your affairs in order, you’ve come to the right place. Estate planning can be tricky without the right attorney on your side. There’s a lot to navigate during this stressful time… especially when all you’re really concerned about is protecting your family after you’re gone.
At the Denmon Pearlman Law, our estate planning attorneys are here to help you understand the ins and outs of estate planning and help you make the best decisions possible for your family.
Our law firm’s estate planning attorneys have put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand everything from asset allocation to the probate process. Let’s get down to business.
What is an estate plan? An estate plan includes: Appointing someone to assist with your healthcare decisions if needed; Appointing an individual to assist with financial decisions if you become unable to; Preparing for distribution of your assets upon death and Guardianship of one’s minor children upon death. A comprehensive plan is vital when you’re planning for the future. We’re here to help you make decisions with your family’s best interest at heart.
Even if you’re healthy now, someday you will need someone to make decisions on your behalf. These decisions could regard your finances or your health care. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late to make your wishes known. Seek advice from our law firm’s trusted estate planning attorneys at every turn. We’re here to make sure that your lifetime of hard work will benefit you and your family down the road.
According to the AARP, only 60% of people over the age of 50 even have basic wills. Only 45% of people have durable powers of attorney, 30% have health care directives, and only 23% of these people have living trusts.
Choosing someone to be in charge of your financial and medical well-being can be extremely helpful if you end up mentally incapacitated. Be clear and concise in your estate plan to ensure that there is a minimal chance of family argument or a costly probate proceeding.
What should you know about estate planning? Here are some of the minimum requirements for a comprehensive estate plan. It should be able to answer the following questions:
1. How am I going to distribute my assets such as real estate, bank accounts and investments when I’m gone?
2. How can I minimize expenses and taxes when I’m gone?
3. How can I make sure that the transfer of my estate goes as quickly as possible?
4. When I die do I have sufficient assets or does insurance ensure that expenses get paid?
5. Who do I want to settle my affairs and distribute my assets after I’m gone?
6. If I become disabled who do I want to manage my assets and finances?
7. Who do I want to make health care decisions for me if I am mentally incapacitated?
8. What do I want to direct the doctors in case I cannot?
9. If I become disabled how do I pay for nursing home or long-term care and ensure it doesn’t deplete my estate?
When you are preparing your legal documents with your estate planning attorney, you want to make sure all of these questions are answered to make sure that your wished get administered after you’re gone.
What legal documents will your estate plan include? A comprehensive estate plan may include all or some of the following documents:
1. Last Will & Testament
2. Trusts or Irrevocable Trusts
3. Special Needs Trust
4. Power of Attorney
5. Premarital Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement
7. Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
8. Living Will
9. Designation of Preneed Guardian
Your probate and estate plan will need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure that your estate planning goals have not changed.
A Power of Attorney is defined as the right to act for another human being in regards financial, legal, healthcare matters, and decisions as to minor children. A Power of Attorney for financial, legal, and matters related to minor children is referred to as your Attorney-in-Fact, while a Power of Attorney for healthcare matters is referred to as a Healthcare Surrogate. According to Florida law, the person creating the Power of Attorney is referred to as the Principal.
A Durable Power of Attorney can be drafted to apply to the following:
Financials: If you so choose, a Principal can be appointed to make all of your financial decisions including bank and investments transactions, real estate transactions the sale or purchase of personal property and more.
Legal Documents: Your Attorney-in-Fact can also make legal decisions for you such as pleadings and signing legally binding documents. While there are limitations, your Attorney-in-Fact can have control over several of your court-related proceedings.
Childcare: If necessary or desired, you may also want your Attorney-in-Fact to have childcare privileges and decision making authority. These responsibilities will include healthcare, school enrollment, extracurricular participation, travel opportunities, and more.
Healthcare: Your Healthcare Surrogate will have decision-making authority relating to your healthcare. If you are unable or unwilling to make the decision to as to a course of treatment, your Healthcare Surrogate can step in and do this for you. This person will have full access to medical records, pharmacy records, doctors’ records, and more. Access to these documents may be vital to making the best healthcare decisions.
Durable Power of Attorney and Designation of Healthcare Documents can be as limited or broad in scope as you want them to be. Your estate planning attorney can assist you with drafting these documents to meet your needs.
In addition to the documents discussed, our Estate Planning team may advise that you need a Designation of Preneed Guardian. This document states who you want to take guardianship over your person and/or financials if you become incapacitated. Generally, this document is drafted for elderly or ill individuals and is filed with the court.
To learn more about your Power of Attorney, Designation of Healthcare and Designation of Preneed Guardian options, schedule a free consultation with our law firm’s estate planning attorneys today.
A Last Will and Testament is always a necessary document. It designates who will get your assets when you pass. It also includes specific funeral instructions and a guardianship provision for any minor children you have at the time of your death.
Your estate planning attorney may also advise that in addition to a Last Will & Testament, you should also have a Trust. Trusts allow you to designate who will receive your assets upon passing. If you prefer, your Trust can live on after you pass away and periodic distributions can be made to beneficiaries in lieu of outright distributions. Trusts also can be created to allow you to continue to provide support for a family member or friend who is disabled or who receives government assistance.
If a Trust is created, you may be able to avoid the cost and additional time that a Probate proceeding takes. Trust Administrations are conducted outside the courts, but allow court intervention if issues arise. If you choose to create a Trust as part of your Estate Plan, you will also have a Last Will and Testament to address all other issues other than asset distribution and to ensure that if any assets were left out of the Trust they are transferred into the Trust upon death. This is often referred to as a “Pour Over Will”.
Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, Living Will, and Last Will & Testaments are essential documents for people of all ages. They ensure you have control over who will assist with your healthcare decisions, who will become guardian(s) of your children and where your assets will go if you pass.
Ready to take the next step toward planning your and your family’s future? We take our attorney-client relationship seriously. Get in contact with our Tampa estate planning attorneys today. Call our Tampa office at (813) 554-3232 to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to assist you with everything from the probate to asset distribution.