WILLS AND ESTATE PLANS
Your estate plan serves two very important functions:
1 – In the event you are incapacitated, your plan gives someone else the authority to manage your legal, financial and medical affairs.
2 – In the event of your death, your plan directs the distribution of your property to loved ones and seeks to avoid the necessity of legal procedures to accomplish the distribution.
Your Estate Plan protects you and provides for the people you love.
A basic Estate Plan includes a Power of Attorney, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament. My basic Estate Planning package also included a Declaration of Pre-need Guardian and a Statement of Authority to Make Final Arrangements. Although a Trust is sometimes useful, it is not always necessary. Since over 90% of Americans do not have enough property to worry about estate taxes, a basic Estate Plan does not include tax planning.
If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, the Florida Statutes provide for the distribution of your property after your death. If you die without a Will, your property will first go to your legally recognized spouse. If you do not have a spouse, your property will go to your biological or legally adopted children. If you do not have children, your property will go to your parents.
Whether you are married or not, you need an Estate Plan.
How much does an Estate Plan cost?
The cost of an Estate Plan can vary depending on the size of your estate. My basic Estate Planning Packages start at $600. Married or unmarried couples receive a discount for doing them at the same time.
How do I get started?
Call my office today at (850) 520-3050 to schedule a free telephone consultation. I recommend that you speak with me before you schedule an office consultation so that you will now what to expect when you come in for the office consultation. Before our meeting, you should collect the financial information you have available, including: your bank statements, IRA’s, retirement plans, pension plans, profit sharing plans, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, titles to cars, boats or recreational vehicles and deeds.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document in which you give someone else the authority to conduct legal and financial transactions on your behalf. When you grant someone a Power of Attorney they are called your Attorney in Fact, not to be confused with an Attorney at Law. Your Attorney in Fact can sell your car or withdraw money from your bank account.
Why should I give someone else your Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is used in Estate Planning to designate someone to make legal and financial decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. If you do not grant someone a Power of Attorney and you become incapacitated, your loved ones will have to petition the court to appoint a Guardian to manage your affairs for you. The Guardianship can be an expensive process paid out of your assets leaving less money for you and your care.
What is a Living Will?
Part of an Advance Medical Directive, a Living Will expresses your wishes about the administration of life prolonging medical procedures.
Why do you need a Living Will?
Hospitals are required to give you life support as long as you are alive. If you do not want life support under certain circumstances then you must sign a Living Will.
What is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate?
Another part of an Advance Medical Directive is the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, also called a Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy. This document gives someone else the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself.
Why do you need to designate a Health Care Surrogate?
If you do not designate a Health Care Surrogate, the hospitals will consult your closest relative. This may not be the person you would choose to make your medical decisions.