Florida Today’s recent article entitled “No matter your age, income or crushing debt, you should have an estate plan” explains that the purpose of a good estate plan is that it allows you to maintain control over how your assets are distributed if you die. A good estate plan names someone to make decisions for you, if you can no longer act for yourself. Let’s look at the different documents that are necessary:
Durable Power of attorney: If you become incapacitated, someone still needs to pay your bills and handle your finances. For example, A Durable POA names the person you’d want to have that responsibility. Without this in place, and should you lose capacity prior to having one drawn up by an elder law attorney, you may find yourself in court going through the Guardianship process, an expensive undertaking that runs in the thousands!
Health Care Power of attorney: This document is used if you become incapacitated and appoints the individual whom you want to make health care decisions on your behalf. Without this in place, and should you lose capacity prior to having one drawn up by an elder law attorney, you may find yourself in court going through the Guardianship process, an expensive undertaking that runs in the thousands!
Last Will & Testament: This document designates both who oversees your estate, who gets your assets and how they should be transferred.
Beneficiary designations: Part of your planning is to name who should receive money from life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts and other financial accounts.
HIPAA Waiver: This is a legal document that allows an individual’s health information to be used or disclosed to a third party. Without this, loved ones may not be able to be a part of decisions and treatment.
Trust. A trust can facilitate passing property to your heirs and potentially provide tax benefits for both you and your beneficiaries.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons to have an estate plan. Estate planning isn't only for the rich, and it doesn't have to be overly complicated.
An experienced estate planning lawyer, also called a trusts and estates attorney, can work with you to create an estate plan customized to your needs, financial affairs and family situation.
Putting your wishes in writing will make certain that your affairs are in order for now and in the future and help your family.
Reference: Florida Today (May 28, 2022) “No matter your age, income or crushing debt, you should have an estate plan”