While meeting with an estate planning attorney may not be on your to-do list during your lifetime or on your New Years resolutions, it is not something you should put off until you are on your deathbed. Many people are intimidated by the prospect of estate planning, however in most cases it is much easier if you come prepared.
A typical Florida estate plan consists of the following important documents: last will and testament; Revocable trust (for many people); Legal power; Substitute for health care; Living will; and Declaration of the tutor prior to the need. The Revocable Trust (if one is created), Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Pre-Need Guardian Statement are designed to operate throughout your lifetime and provide guidance on how your personal affairs are handled. and financial throughout your life. . In contrast, the Revocable Trust and Last Will and Testament control how your property is distributed after your death.
When you meet with your estate planning attorney, they will guide you through the various planning options and options available to you so that your legal documents reflect your intentions. To make your time with your attorney more productive, the following is a list of things to discuss and prepare before the meeting:
Create a list of your assets and liabilities. This list should include the value of your home (including mortgage), bank accounts, investment accounts, business interests, valuable personal belongings (for example, artwork or jewelry), insurance policies on your life and retirement accounts . For each asset listed, include an estimate of its current value or balance, as well as whether you own the asset in your individual name or jointly with someone else, such as your spouse or children. This information will help your attorney guide you through the planning process.
Agents during your life
Healthcare Surrogate – Who will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The person you name to act as your health care surrogate will have the power to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Consideration should be given to who should be appointed to this position, along with their successor.
Power of Attorney: Who will take care of your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. The person you name to act as your power of attorney will act as your agent regarding your financial affairs during your lifetime. The power of attorney will take effect immediately after you sign it. Consideration should be given to who should be appointed to this position, along with their successor.
Living Will: Decisions at the end of life. The person you name to act as your surrogate will act as your agent regarding your financial affairs during your lifetime. The power of attorney will take effect immediately after you sign it. Consideration should be given to who should be appointed to this position, along with their successor.
Administration upon death
Who has the ability and ability to serve as your personal representative. The individual or professional entity that you select to act as Personal Representative of your probate estate will be responsible for liquidating your estate after your death. Your duties will include collecting your assets, paying debts, expenses, and any taxes that may be owed, and then distributing the remaining estate assets to your beneficiaries. With married couples, each spouse often appoints the other to act as their personal representative. The next consideration is who or what entity will serve as your successor, if it fails to survive or cannot serve. You can name more than one person to fill this role, but according to Florida law, it must be a family member or a resident of the state. More importantly, it is important that the individuals or entities selected are trustworthy.
Who has the ability and ability to act as your trustee (s). The person or professional entity you select to serve as trustee of your Trust, upon your death or inability to serve, will be responsible for managing your financial affairs, while you are alive, and resolving your financial affairs after your death. Like a Personal Representative, your duties will include collecting your assets, paying debts, expenses, and any taxes that may be owed, and then distributing the remaining estate assets to your beneficiaries. With married couples, both spouses typically serve as trustees, as long as they are capable. The next consideration is who or what entity will serve as your successor, if they fail to survive or cannot serve. You may appoint more than one person to serve in this role, without any restrictions on family membership or a resident of the state. More importantly, it is important that the individuals or entities selected are trustworthy.
Items of personal property and to whom they should pass in the event of death. Create a written document stating how you would like to dispose of your personal items (wedding ring, jewelry, car (s), baseball card collection, etc.) when you pass away, even if you don’t think they have any monetary value. Without a separate written statement, your personal items will pass to a surviving spouse or will be divided equally among your children or beneficiaries. The detailed list can potentially prevent family disputes over items with sentimental value but no monetary value.
Plan the distribution of your estate. How, to whom, and in what amounts you want the remaining assets to be distributed is the next important decision you will need to consider. Your assets can be distributed to anyone (family member, friend, acquaintance, etc.) or charity of your choice. Assets can be distributed directly or over a long period of time (they reach a certain age, until the beneficiary needs or wants funds, etc.). There is no wrong decision, as you can distribute your assets however you want.