Whether you are in your 20s or enjoying life in retirement, preparing an estate plan – or updating your estate plan to reflect your current family and financial circumstances – is an important step toward preserving your wealth and avoiding uncertainty for yourself and your loved ones. While there are a number of advanced estate planning solutions available, planning your estate does not have to be complicated, and many people will find that the basic estate planning documents are adequate to meet their needs.
Personalized Estate Planning Services
Our estate planning services begin with getting to know our clients personally so that we can make personalized recommendations that are well-suited to their individual circumstances. If your circumstances do not call for use of advanced estate planning tools, your plan will likely consist of:
- Will – A will is the foundation of any estate plan. In addition to ensuring that none of your assets will be subject to Florida’s laws of intestate succession, preparing a will also allows you to designate a personal representative to administer your final affairs and appoint a guardian for your minor children (if any).
- Revocable Living Trust – A revocable living trust is a flexible, multi-purpose estate planning tool that allows you to distribute your assets outside of the probate process. This reduces the costs and burdens of estate administration while also reducing the chances of estate-related litigation. Establishing a revocable living trust can also mitigate (or eliminate) estate tax liability, and it ensures that you will maintain control over your assets during your lifetime.
- Financial Power of Attorney – Who will manage your final affairs if you are unable to do so? This is an important question, and one that too often goes overlooked during the estate planning process. By preparing a financial power of attorney, you can rest assured that someone you trust will manage your finances if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury.
- Health Care Power of Attorney – A health care power of attorney is a form of advance health care directive that allows someone else to make decisions about your medical care on your behalf. Similar to a financial power of attorney, Florida law provides a significant amount of flexibility for granting (or limiting) authority in a health care power of attorney, and making informed decisions requires a careful assessment of your personal beliefs as well as your family and financial circumstances.
- Health Care Surrogate Designation – A health care surrogate designation is another form of advance health care directive that can be used to ensure that a loved one will be able to communicate with your doctors and make decisions about your medical care in the event of your incapacity. Health care powers of attorney and health care surrogate designations each offer different benefits, and it will be important to ensure that you have a clear understanding of each document’s role in your estate plan.
- Living Will – A living will allows you to direct your own health care even if you are unable to communicate your wishes due to an incapacitating illness or injury. Typically, it will be desirable to prepare a living will in addition to a health care power of attorney and health care surrogate designation, with each document addressing different potential circumstances.
Contact Us about Your Estate Plan
While these documents are typical of a simple estate plan, it is important not to overlook the fact that your unique circumstances may call for special planning. From life insurance policies to charitable trusts, many people will find it advantageous to incorporate other documents into their estate plans as well. Our attorneys can help you craft an estate plan that reflects your long-term goals while providing the flexibility you need to adapt to changes over time. To learn more, please call (239) 325-4070 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.