By engaging a Central Florida Estate Planning Attorney, you assist your family in the ability to manage your affairs in the event you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make health or financial decisions. You also use an estate planning lawyer to prepare in advance for the end of your life and the disbursement of your assets or property upon death. Most people avoid this planning process because they don’t want to think about growing older, getting ill, or having an accident. People often put this planning off for years or never get it done, leaving their loved ones disoriented at the time of an incapacitation or death.
Don’t subject your family to making last-minute decisions on your behalf. Plan now. I am an estate planning attorney in Orlando, Florida serving all of Central Florida, and I can help you.
1. What Do You Need? At a minimum, every Florida resident should have the following documents in their estate plan:
- A Florida Will executed by a person in the manner prescribed by the Florida Probate Code, which disposes of the person’s property on or after his or her death and appoints a personal representative.
- A Florida Living Will executed by a person in the manner prescribed by the “Life-Prolonging Procedure Act of Florida” directing the providing, withholding, or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures in the event that such person has a terminal condition, has an end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state. A suggested form of a Florida Living Will can be found HERE.
- A Florida Health Care Power of Attorney delegating a spouse, trusted family member or friend to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This document is also known as an appointment of a health care agent, a healthcare proxy, or a durable power of attorney for health care. Be aware that a regular durable power of attorney only covers financial matters.
- A Florida Financial Power of Attorney delegating a spouse, trusted family member or friend to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
- A letter of instruction outlines any special requests you’d like to be carried out, such as plans for a funeral and names of people to contact. It also should include important phone numbers, such as your employer and your insurance agent or broker. Some people also include a list of meaningful possessions they’d like to give to certain loved ones. This is not a substitute for a will, but it helps clarify your intentions and feelings.
2. Sit down with your family, especially the one who you’ve designated as a health care surrogate, and explain what you’ve decided. Give them a copy of your documents and have your doctor put one in your permanent medical record.
3. Review your papers every few years. Keep them in a safe, easily accessible place such as a secure file cabinet. If your family situation changes (divorce, births, deaths, etc.) you may want to make changes.
To reiterate the importance of estate planning, let us offer you some information about probate. Probate in Florida is a very complex legal matter. Florida probate rules dictate that every personal representative of the deceased, “shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida…” unless that personal representative is the sole beneficiary of the will. With that being stated, it’s apparent that you are going to need an attorney to help you and your family through the probate process.
Contact us now to schedule an Estate Planning or Probate consultation.