Your estate plan is one of the most important sets of documents you’ll ever prepare. However, estate planning laws vary from state to state. Knowing which documents to prepare can be confusing if you moved to Florida from another state. If you live in Florida, allow this article to serve as your Florida estate planning guide.
The document most people associate with an estate plan is the Last Will and Testament. A Will gives an individual – the testator – the chance to state who will get their property when they pass away. Wills may also be used to form testamentary trusts and to name guardians for the testator’s children.
In Florida, Wills must be printed on paper like the kind you will get from an attorney. Florida does not accept oral Wills or electronic Wills. Holographic Wills, which are handwritten by the testator, are invalid unless they have been executed following Florida law.
A Will only goes into effect after you die. Other Florida estate planning documents, however, affect you and your family before you pass away.
There are several kinds of power of attorney documents. However, the common feature is that the person signing the power of attorney, the principal, names an agent to handle personal business for them. The authority granted to the agent may be broad or limited to a single decision.
A durable power of attorney is often part of a complete estate plan because it remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. In fact, it may be used to avoid the need for a guardianship.
However, a durable power of attorney does not grant anyone the authority to make medical decisions for the principal.
The terms advanced directive, medical power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living Will are sometime s used interchangeably. An advanced directive is any written statement a person makes regarding medical decisions made if they are unable to communicate those wishes in person.
Through an advanced directive, you can name a health care surrogate, describe medical treatments you do or don’t want, and state your preferences about end-of-life treatments.
While some may consider it optional, a revocable living trust can be a great tool to help people achieve their estate planning goals. By transferring your assets to a revocable living trust, you can avoid the expense and frustration of a lengthy probate. Your assets typically transfer to your heirs soon after you pass away. You can also name a successor trustee to manage your trust assets if you become incapacitated.
The Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., have the experience to address your questions and concerns. In fact, attorney John Mangan is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. Please call us at 772-324-9050 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. We help clients throughout Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.