What Are The Basic Components Of An Estate Plan?
There are several basic documents in an estate plan. The first is the will. A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes for how you want your property to be distributed, how you want your minor children to be taken care of, and what you want done with your assets at the time of your death. That document will appoint a personal representative, who will be the person who acts on behalf of the estate after you pass away. You also designate beneficiaries and you may set up testamentary trusts, which develop out of the estate later, to take care of different beneficiaries…Read More
Power Of Attorney
The next main document is a power of attorney, often called a POA. A power of attorney is a central part of any good estate plan. It allows another person to act on your behalf. The power of attorney that you give someone can either be durable or non-durable. Durable means that it lasts forever, even after incapacity, and non-durable power of attorney lasts for a limited period of time. The power of attorney can also be limited or unlimited. It can limit the powers that the agent has to act on behalf of the principal to only a certain set of tasks or it can make the powers general, dealing with any potential financial issues that the principal may have.
A power of attorney can be a very dangerous document. A person who is holding a power of attorney can make any choice for you that they want. In the state of Florida, you are not allowed to spring the power of attorney, which means you can’t say the power of attorney is only effective when you lose capacity. It’s important to make sure that you trust whoever the agent you are going to be appointing. You can also make multiple co-agents. There are many different ways that a power of attorney can be put together to protect you and make sure that decisions can be made on your behalf without opening you up to a tremendous amount of liability…Read More
The next main document you should consider is a living will, which is a document that states what your wishes are regarding medical treatment in the event that you are in a persistent vegetative state or on life support, and there is no medically reasonable chance of recovery. A living will would designate what you want to happen to you, so you don’t leave the decision in the hands of another person…Read More
Advanced Directive Regarding Dementia
Related to this is an advanced directive regarding dementia. It is quickly becoming an important document for the “baby boomers” generation to have, as our increasingly aging population suffers from far higher rates of degenerative brain disease than in the past. The rates of Stage 5 and Stage 6 Alzheimer’s and dementia are rapidly increasing, and many people get to the point they are no longer able to feed themselves. An advanced directive will state whether or not you want to be artificially fed or given hydration, if you are not naturally able to give it to yourself. This includes things like hand feeding and forcing consumption of food by various methods. Most of my clients have never even thought about the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but in an increasingly aging population, degenerative brain diseases are a reality that people are having to deal with, and it is far better to be prepared.
Designation Of Healthcare Surrogate
The next document is your designation of healthcare surrogate. The designation of healthcare surrogate is a document which empowers another individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. There are several different options for making a healthcare surrogate. You can have multiple healthcare surrogates who each can act alone, or you can make everyone act together. It’s very important that you designate the person you want making these designations for you. If you do not designate that person, a lot of times, there can be a lengthy court battle over who has the right to make these decisions for you. There is another document that goes with the healthcare surrogate, which is the HIPAA release. A HIPAA release is a document that allows another person access to your medical information…Read More
Then, there is a trust agreement. There are many different forms of trust agreements. The most basic trust is simply a person placing property into an entity that is controlled by the trustee for the benefit the beneficiary. Trusts take many forms but the most common is the revocable living trust. In a revocable living trust, the person who is placing the property into the trust is the initial trustee and also the initial beneficiary. In the event that something happens to you and you are incapacitated, a successor trustee is set up, who then will take over all of the assets in the trust and continue to use them for your benefit. The trust document will state how your assets are to be distributed to the beneficiaries, at what point they are going to be distributed out to your beneficiaries, and numerous other instructions.
There are lot of different ways that a revocable living trust can be customized. A living trust can be customized so that the money goes to grandchildren or the money is only distributed for certain reasons. Money can be protected from a beneficiary who may have a drug, alcohol, or spending problem. Another big benefit of using a revocable trust is that we can avoid probate. This is a main goal because probate is an expensive process. However, a revocable living trust may not be the most optimal for your situation. There are a number of types of irrevocable trusts that exist.
A charitable remainder trust, a Medicare trust, and a special needs trust are all forms of irrevocable trusts that can be used for particularized reasons. With an irrevocable trust, once you place your property in that trust, it cannot be changed or revoked…Read More
Declaration Of A Pre-Need Guardian
The final document is a declaration of pre-need guardian. It simply states to the court, in the event that you are incapacitated, who the person it is that you nominate as your guardian.
For more information on Basic Components Of An Estate Plan, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7755 today.
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