While many are aware that they should have an estate plan, it is not uncommon for people to believe that the only thing they need is a simple will or a trust. This could not be further from the truth! Estate planning involves the preparation of a wide range of different legal documents and entities. Every estate plan should include a will, the naming of powers of attorney, a living will, and guardianship designations.
1. Create a Will or Trust
The most well-known part of an estate plan is a person's last will and testament. This document, in combination with a living trust, can help you ensure that your property is passed on to beneficiaries of your choosing at the time of your passing. If written in a legally sound manner, this can help your family avoid the need for probate court upon your death.
2. Name a Durable Power of Attorney
In the event that you should become incapacitated, an appointed agent known as a durable power of attorney will be given the right to make certain choices on your behalf. This person has the power to buy and sell real estate, make financial transactions, and decide legal matters. If you do not appoint a durable power of attorney and you become unable to communicate, the courts may make these decisions.
3. Appoint a Health Care Power of Attorney
Similarly to a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney is an appointed person that is given the right to make medical decisions for you if you should ever become incapacitated due to an accident or illness. Since the appointed person could potentially decide life or death scenarios, it is imperative that this agent is chosen carefully. A backup agent can be identified in case the primary power of attorney is unavailable when needed.
4. Establish a Living Will
A living will is a written or oral statement that details the type of medical care that a person wishes to receive in the event that they are unable to make their own decisions. This type of legal document can help you establish your wishes for the use of life support, resuscitative measures, and what should be done in the event that you are in a vegetative state.
5. Designate Guardians
If you have children, it is imperative that you establish in writing who will be responsible for their care in the event that you should pass away or otherwise become unable to properly care for them. The person or people that you choose to look after your children should be trustworthy, have similar life views, and has a genuine willingness to raise your children in your absence. As is the case with other issues, if this is not established ahead of time, the courts will decide this matter in the event of your passing.
Contact David F. Albrecht, P.A. Today!
I, Attorney David Albrecht, can walk you through the process of creating a thorough and legally sound estate plan. With more than four decades of experience as a Vero Beach estate planning lawyer, I can use my vast legal knowledge to help you prepare for all of life's "what ifs," giving you much needed peace of mind to move forward with confidence. To get started, contact my office online or schedule an appointment by calling (772) 353-4466 today!