It’s that time of year again. The time when you make your new year’s resolutions to start off the new year on the right foot. Some of your resolutions might be to lose weight, eat healthy, or get more exercise. What about your estate planning goals? You should consider making an estate plan one of your new year’s resolutions for 2018. If you already have an estate plan from a few years ago, you should review it to make sure that it still lines up with your wishes.  

Estate planning is never a fun thing to do. No one likes planning for their demise. However, if you have children, or have other loved ones who depend on you or that you care about, having an estate plan is essential. In order to look at the value of estate planning, let’s look at a few scenarios:

  • If you have certain children, friends, relatives, or charities that you want to provide for after your death, you need to have an estate plan. Under Florida law, if a person dies without a validly executed will, his or her assets will be transferred according to a rigid distribution scheme that distributes the assets to members of your family, depending on who is living at the time of death. You have no choice regarding what happens to your assets if you pass away without a will or trust.
  • A durable power of attorney is extremely important in the event that you are incapacitated and need someone else to take care of your affairs. For example, you are incapacitated in a hospital, and payments need to be made on your mortgage. Or your money needs to be moved around in order to pay for your care. If you don’t have a power of attorney, and if you funds are not in a joint account, these tasks become very difficult to accomplish. An agent through a durable power of attorney can step into your shoes to take care of important tasks that you cannot, ensuring that you receive the care you need. If you are concerned with giving a person such wide ranging power, talk to an attorney about ways that you may be able to limit the opportunity for misuse.
  • A declaration of living will can be important in the event you are critically injured and do not wish to be kept in a persistent vegetative state. A living will can provide clear instructions to your loved ones and medical personnel about your wishes. This means no fights between family members about keeping you on life support.
  • A trust may be helpful if you own a certain quantity of assets or wish to take certain actions with your assets after your death, in addition to other estate and asset management purposes. You should really talk to an attorney about whether or not you could benefit from a trust. A trust can make things much easier for your loved ones in the event of your demise, while making sure that your wishes are carried our and your loved ones are taken care of. If you have minor children, a trust may be a great way to ensure that they are provided for in the event of your death. A trust can also be used as part of an asset protection scheme and may keep your assets out of the probate process. If you have any question about whether a trust is right for you and your family, talk to an attorney.
  • Other estate planning documents, such as a declaration of preneed guardian and designation of health care surrogate also have benefits in cases where you are incapacitated. Health Care Surrogates can be useful during your life as well: Have you ever tried to get medical records for a loved one when they can’t leave the house to appear in person? A health care surrogate would be helpful in that situation. 

I know that this talk sounds morbid and that you are not planning on going anywhere any time soon. We all think this way. However, the truth is that we never know the future and we don’t know what may happen tomorrow. So take this one step, get an estate plan organized, and after you have these documents, you won’t have to worry about it again. You’ll know that your affairs are in order in case anything ever does happen.

If you have any questions about estate planning, cost, or how an estate plan might benefit you, contact our firm today to talk to an experienced attorney for a free consultation. One of our attorneys will be able to explain the benefits of the various estate planning documents and can discuss whether a trust may be beneficial for your situation. Make getting an estate plan one of your new year’s resolutions for 2018. It’s one thing that’s easy to do, doesn’t take a lot of time, and will definitely be beneficial to you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

 

 

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