The topic of death is not often an invited conversation. Yet without giving the inevitable end of life proper consideration, your estate may not be distributed as you wish. Estate planning is a fundamental part of organizing your assets for when you’re gone.
Estate planning involves a selection of steps such as setting up trusts, drafting wills, appointing health care surrogates, and determining a financial power of attorney. Understanding what each of these elements contributes is important for careful planning.
The Importance of Estate Planning
Estate planning is a good idea, regardless of age, health, or wealth. The process prevents legal hold-ups, finances lost in taxes, and lengthy processes to access inheritance.
An estate plan will clearly define who will take care of an individual’s children and manage their assets in the case of death or incapacitation.
Hiring an attorney that is experienced in Florida state estate planning laws ensures that your requests are legally valid.
Key Elements of Estate Planning
An experienced attorney is able to guide clients through the various steps of estate planning and the options available. Consider these descriptions an introduction to the elements.
1. Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament offer the opportunity to name the people that you want to leave your assets after death. Failure to draft a last will and testament puts the distribution of your assets in the hands of your state statutes and a potentially lengthy probate process.
Some of the most important details to consider when outlining your wishes include your trustworthy heirs and the potential disagreements that may arise when distributing assets.
The last will and testament also needs to be updated as various life changes occur. For example, marriage, divorce, and having children.
2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
Commonly known as an HPOA, a healthcare power of attorney is the determined decision-maker pertaining to healthcare decisions in the instance of incapacitation. Determining the HPOA can be determined in a living will.
The trusted individual will honor your medical wishes in the instance that you are incapacitated, terminally ill, or unable to communicate effectively.
There are key considerations when choosing your medical power of attorney. The selected individual should stand up for you, ask questions about treatment options that they don’t understand, and be calm in a changing or stressful situation.
3. Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney fulfills the same function as the HPOA but in regard to finances. The person that you choose to manage your finances in the instance of incapacitation should be trusted to make your financial decisions.
It’s a good idea to draft this document at the same time as the living will and selecting an HPOA. The individual will be responsible for investment decisions, managing the payment of all of the bills, and making other financial decisions.
4. Establishing A Living Trust
A living trust is a legal entity that involves the relationship between you as the trustor (the creator of the trust) and you as the trustee. The trustee is given ownership of your assets based on the details outlined in the will.
A trust is intended to avoid probate and ensure that, upon your death, your assets are distributed in the way that you direct. The details are stipulated in the legal document that created the trust.
Trusts can be advantageous if you have a large insurance policy, a notable estate, or children to care for after your death.
Expert Guidance You Can Trust
At Handin Law, we offer professional and dedicated estate planning services. We pay special attention to each client, offering bespoke advice to each situation that best suits the individual’s estate planning needs.
Death may be inevitable, but your legacy can live on. Contact us today at 954-796-9600 to find out more about our estate planning services and put these fundamental elements into action.