As of July 13, 2020, there have been over 282,000 cases of COVID-19 resulting in more than 4,000 deaths in Florida alone! The continuing prominence and impact of the virus have made it increasingly common for people to begin questioning the order of their legal affairs. At the law offices of Gary I. Handin,P.A., we recognize that proper estate planning should not be complicated and that is why we are here to help you understand everything you need to know.
Estate Planning Basics
Florida estate planning differs from any other state. Many people do not realize that estate planning goes beyond just writing out a will or trust. It is also crucial to include ancillary documents such as:
This document is much like a power of attorney but instead appoints someone to make critical medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make them yourself. If you do not have a medical directive or healthcare power of attorney, HIPPA prevents any of your health information, records, or status from being shared with anyone. Having a directive in place allows someone you trust to have access to those documents and make decisions for you.
This document informs healthcare professionals how you want to go about end-of-life measurements such as feeding tubes, breathing machines, and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. For most, this saves family and loved ones from making those decisions as they occur. It is crucial to understand they are different from traditional wills, which informs your family and loved ones how you wish your property to be split up. Another difference between the two is that living wills do not have to go through probate court as no assets are involved.
Power Of Attorney
This document legally appoints the person of your choice to conduct business on your behalf. Some of the duties this allows your power of attorney to perform include: authorizing and accessing financial accounts, life and health insurance policies, and legal actions such as lawsuits. Having a power of attorney during COVID-19 is critical in case of quarantine or hospitalization in order to keep bills and legal affairs in order. If there is not a power of attorney appointed, nobody will be granted access to these policies and businesses.
Pre-Need Guardian Declaration
This document designates who will become the legal guardian of you or your child(ren) in the chance that you become incapacitated in the eyes of the court. Pre-need guardianship also declares who will take care of your property in the same circumstances. These positions do not have to be held by the same person but should be someone you know and trust to guard over you, your children, and your property. This document is essentials as it prevents those decisions from being made by the court.
One of the most difficult challenges of estate planning during COVID-19 is getting your documents properly signed and notarized. This has proven especially tough for Florida residents as it has incredibly strict requirements. For the court to consider them legal documents, not only does the testator have to sign them in person, but the law also requires two unrelated witnesses.
Getting Started With Estate Planning
Even during the chaos of COVID-19, estate planning does not have to be difficult when you enlist the right attorney’s help. The Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A. continues to offer our expert advice and services in every aspect of estate planning. Our offices are more than happy to help you plan entirely remotely through virtual consultations, phone, and email. If you are ready to start or update your estate planning documents or have any questions, call us locally at (954)-796-9600 or toll-free at 1-877-815-4560 today!