Something everyone aged 18 or older should have is an estate plan. You don’t have to be a millionaire to have an estate plan. If all you have is a bank account and a vehicle, your assets must go through probate if you die. All it takes is an unexpected accident or illness. A Florida estate planning attorney can help you protect your assets and ensure your legacy, regardless of its size.
The Expense of an Incapacitating Illness or Death
When you become incapacitated or die, your loved ones have all the regular expenses of the illness or, in the case of death, funeral and burial expenses. If you don’t have a will, your loved ones will also have the expense of going to probate court. Probate attorneys and court fees can eat up your heirs’ inheritance.
You can avoid many of the probate-related expenses if you have an estate plan. Even if part of the estate has to go through probate, it’s less expensive than if your whole estate has to go through the court.
Basic Estate Planning Documents
The estate planning documents you need depend on several factors, including but not limited to the value of your assets, how you want to disburse your assets, if you are planning for an incapacitating illness, and if you need to have control over the amount of money your heirs receive.
Last Will and Testament
Every estate plan has a Last Will and Testament. You can set it up to disburse your assets, or you can create a “pour-over” Will that dumps your assets into a trust upon your death. The Last Will and Testament is the main document in your estate plan.
The type of trust you have depends on several factors, including whether you need to protect your assets from taxes, if you have children, and whether you want control of your assets during your lifetime. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. With a revocable trust, you can add and remove assets. An irrevocable trust does not allow that – think of it as a permanent trust.
Your Will attorneys can review your assets and help you determine which type of trust is best for your situation.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
If something happens to you and you can’t make decisions on your own, you’ll need someone to make those decisions for you. To ensure that your wishes are met, create a Healthcare Power of Attorney. It names a person to make those decisions and instructs them on how to make the decisions.
Financial Power of Attorney
An accident or unexpected illness can happen at any time in your life. A Financial Power of Attorney names someone you trust to handle your affairs should you become incapacitated or die. You can draft it so that it only takes effect if you can no longer handle your financial affairs. You can also include all of your financial affairs or some. You can even create two if you need one person to handle paying bills and another to handle your investments.
A living will instructs a trusted loved one how to handle your medical wishes. For example, if an accident causes you to go into a coma, you can instruct a trusted loved one to remove you from life support. You can also use it to instruct your loved one to make certain decisions when you have certain illnesses. For example, you can ask for resuscitation after a heart attack but not after an illness-induced coma.
Contact Florida Wills and Estate Lawyer
One of the ways to reduce the stress of your incapacitating illness or death is to have an estate plan. It can be as simple or as complex as you need. Even if you are younger and don’t have a lot of assets, you should have an estate plan – you can add to it as you purchase more assets and increase your wealth.
Contact a Florida estate planning attorney at France Law for a consultation and to get your estate plan started so you are sure who makes medical and financial decisions and who receives your assets should you die.