Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not only for the wealthy or the elderly. The complexity and cost of estate planning can and should be adjusted to account for the wealth, wants and needs of the family or individual involved. Estate planning is about ensuring that after you pass away, what you have gets to the people you want, the way you want, and when you want, and when necessary, to ensure that your minor or disabled children or spouse are cared for in the best way possible. Whether your assets are worth $10,000 or $10,000,000, you should plan for the future.
What is an Estate? Your estate is everything you have in your name, including your house, car, personal property, real estate, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, IRAs, life insurance policies, etc.
We work with you to identify and work around the possible roadblocks that can alter the intended distribution of your assets, such as: property issues, children from prior marriages, loved ones with a disability, divorce settlements, the Florida Homestead Law, estate taxes, beneficiary designations, and many more.
Your estate plan may include a revocable living trust. A trust is an entity designed to hold and manage your assets, both during your lifetime and after you pass. It gives privacy and dignity to your personal affairs, both during your lifetime and after your death. It can provide for a way to have someone else manage your assets if you are unable to and it also can avoid probate upon your death.
What are Advance Directives?
Even though Advance Directives do not involve your property after you pass away, attorneys usually prepare them as part of the estate planning process. Advance Directives are the documents that you execute when you are of sound mind and body giving instructions regarding what should happen to you, your health and your property in the event you become incapable of making those decisions for yourself. If you have children, they include similar documents to nominate who will be their guardian of person and property in the event both legal parents are either deceased or incapacitated. They include documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, HIPAA Release, Designation of Pre-Need Guardian, etc.
Any individual over the age of eighteen should make the time to meet with an estate-planning attorney. When children become adults and go off to college or start their lives independently, the last thing on their minds is what happens if I have an accident or suddenly fall ill. If you are over the age of eighteen and are in an accident, fall ill suddenly or even if you travel overseas, a loved one will not be able to access your medical records, your bank accounts, your social media accounts or the like unless they have an advance directive that allows them access to that type of information to pay your bills, assist in medical decisions or the like. If you have proper estate planning documents in place, there should never be a problem.