Regardless of one’s age or the value of their estate, estate planning is important to ensure that their best wishes — both for their possessions and well-being — are satisfied in life and in death. There are several estate planning forms or documents that make up an estate plan. However, there is a few which must be included to cover your most essential needs. They are as follows:
- A Will — to address asset transfer after death
- Durable Financial power of attorney — to address disability
- Advance healthcare directive — to address healthcare needs during incapacity
- Living trust — efficient asset transfer with side benefits
Your Will, officially called a Last Will and Testament, is a document which establishes or testifies to your desires concerning the transfer of your assets after your death. A will goes into effect only after death, and when found to be valid (i.e. drafted according to Florida requirements), must be followed to the letter by the probate court.
In the will, you should name an executor who would carry out your instructions. You must also name your inheritors and state without ambiguity how and what they are to inherit.
If you have minors, you can also appoint a guardian for them in the will.
Requirements for a valid will in Florida
For a will to be valid in Florida, the following must be observed:
- The testator must be of testamentary capacity i.e. he or she must be 18 or above and of a sound mind at the time of signing the will.
- The will must bear the written signature of the testator
- There must be at least two witnesses who must also sign to attest their presence.
These requirements are established in order to prevent fraudulent practices. Although easy to establish, it is advised you seek the counsel of a Florida estate planning attorney before drafting your will.
Durable financial power of attorney
Although no one wishes disability upon themselves, we cannot shy away from its likelihood of occurring. When that happens, then who would be in charge of your business? Who would handle your bills, manage your assets and handle financial transactions on your behalf? If you do not plan for that now that you are sound, the court may have to step in and appoint someone undesirable when you become incapacitated.
To address this, it is imperative you include a financial power of attorney to your estate planning forms. This document allows you name someone you trust who would step into your shoes and handle your financial and business affairs when you suddenly become disabled. There are also limited and special financial powers of attorney which offer limited authority to your fiduciary. A durable financial power of attorney may only be revoked by you when you regain soundness.
Advance healthcare directive
Just as with financial power of attorney and finances, advance healthcare directive is essential in your estate plan for appointing someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you before unable to do so yourself.
This Florida estate planning form most often comprises two distinct documents namely:
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Living will
Healthcare power of attorney: this healthcare directive is used to authorize someone to be in charge of making sensible medical decisions on your behalf during incapacity.
Living will: with a living will, you lay down instructions on the kind of treatment you want and do not want should you fall victim of a terminal condition. You can specify on the living will not to be put on life support or for your organs to be donated.
The bottom line is that you need to include advance healthcare directive in your estate plan to cover your medical needs do there is no confusion for your family.
A living trust may not be necessary for small estates, but is recommended for larger ones. A Florida living trust offers probate avoidance (as opposed to a will) and can transfer assets during your lifetime with utmost effect without court formalities. Your trustee would manage your estate and personal affairs during incapacity, thus avoiding guardianship proceedings.
Get legal help from an estate planning lawyer Florida
Florida estate planning attorneys are well-versed in the act of estate planning in Florida and will help you establish an all-round comprehensive estate plan. Estate planning gives you peace of mind knowing all uncertainties and inevitable have been addressed. To get this peace of mind, get help by hiring an estate planning attorney Florida.