Planning your estate can be complicated. It involves much more than preparing a will. Here are the essential Florida estate planning documents you need to ensure your last wishes are carried out.
Last Will and Testament
Your will is the most essential element of estate planning because it outlines your last wishes. If you have assets that you wish to leave to specific people or charities, then the will is where you express those wishes.
Your last will and testament is basically the legal document that governs who gets your belongings after you die. This document is the foundation of an estate plan. If you don’t have one, it is up to the state to decide how your belongings are distributed.
Preened Guardian Designation
The state may assign you a guardian if you don’t name one of your own. The preened guardian designation designates the person you want to act for you if the surrogate designation or durable power of attorney fails. You should include a first and second choice in your guardian documents. The more options you have, the better.
Advance Healthcare Directive
If you become unable to make healthcare decisions, having an advanced healthcare directive ensures that your last wishes are adhered to how you wanted. An advance healthcare directive is another critical element of an estate plan.
This document outlines how you wish to be treated if you are incapacitated. These aren’t easy decisions to make, but it is worth it to know your wishes will be carried out.
Durable Power of Attorney
Designating a durable power of attorney means giving someone the ability to make financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make such decisions. People are unable to make those decisions for you without the power of attorney unless they are a conservator or guardian appointed by the court. There is no guarantee the court will choose the person you would have wanted, so select them ahead of time.
Revocable Living Trust
A living trust serves as an alternative to your living will. The trust outlines your last wishes like a will, but it also covers what happens if you are incapacitated. It also allows for assets to be transferred while you are alive. It is called a “revocable” living trust because you, as the trustmaker, have the power to revoke it while you are still alive. A revocable living trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. The successor takes the mantle at this point and performs your last wishes as specified to the best of their ability.
Living trusts offer some benefits over wills. One of the main benefits is that the details of your estate stay private.
Letter of Instruction
The letter of instruction/intent is a document where you express your wishes concerning your medical care, funeral, and the distribution of your assets. A letter of intent serves as a way to tell people how you wish to be treated after passing away. Keep in mind that this letter is not legally binding, but it does provide executors with some direction over how you wish to be treated. The document can also send personal messages to loved ones because it is not a legal document.
The beneficiary receives the balance on your account, life insurance policy, or annuity. Designating a beneficiary ensures life insurance payouts, annuities, and account balances go to the person you choose. You can assign several beneficiaries if you want.
Prepare Estate Planning Documents
Preparing your estate documents is important because even the smallest mistake can create unnecessary burdens for your loved ones. Talk to an estate lawyer to find out more about how to prepare your estate.