The basic estate plan in Florida is comprised of six documents. These include the last will & testament, the durable power of attorney, the designation of health care surrogate, the living will, the pre-need guardian declaration and the revocable living trust. Our firm is dedicated to helping you fully understand your options and incorporating as many of these items (or more in certain situations) as necessary to address your concerns and meet your specific needs.
One of the most powerful estate planning tools is the revocable living trust (RLT). When properly drafted, it can eliminate the time, expense, and publicity associated with probate, reduce or avoid estate taxes, and provide for succession planning in the event of your incapacity. Your assets are transferred into the trust while you are alive and managed for your benefit throughout your lifetime. Only upon death do they pass.
With advances in medical technology and the rise in Alzheimer's disease, it is quite possible that you may become incapacitated for a long period of time. The durable power of attorney allows someone to manage your financial affairs, apply for public benefits, and handle other important matters if you are incapacitated.
The designation of health care surrogate allows an individual to make health care decisions in the event that you are incapacitated.
The living will sets forth instructions to your medical providers on whether you want life prolonging treatment withheld if you are incapacitated and in a "terminal condition," an "end stage condition," a "persistent vegetative state" or severely brain damaged. The instructions also address whether you want the artificial administration of food and water if any of these events occurs.
The pre-need guardian declaration is a means whereby you can help select your guardian in advance. If a guardianship should ever be filed, this document creates a presumption in favor of the person named in the document.
Many families believe estate planning is only for the very rich, the Rockefellers of the world. But the fact is, everyone should have an estate plan. Why? Without an estate plan, the IRS and state in which you reside will decide how your assets are allocated should you become incapacitated and after you pass away. The results can be painstaking for yourself and your loved ones. The fact is, having an estate plan of your own is one of the most important financial decisions you can make.