4 Essential Documents You Need in Your Estate Plan

When our day-to-day lives are interrupted to the degree we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, certain situations and aspects of our lives are seen with more clarity than before. One indirect consequence of the current health crisis is that more Floridians are creating estate plans. Additionally, those who already have a plan in place have been spurred to take a second look and ensure that their financial goals will be met. To provide guidance, our firm has compiled a list of four common (and effective) estate-planning documents. 

  1. Last Will and Testament. Your Last Will and Testament, more commonly referred to as simply a “Will,” is usually the foundation of any foundation plan. A Will can do many things; it can name guardians for your minor children, spell out how you want your estate’s assets and pieces of property distributed after you pass away, and, importantly, name a trusted representative (executor) to carry out the instructions you lay out in the document. An important consideration here is that Wills are generally a matter of public record, so avoid including any sensitive information.
  2. Living Trust. For owners of estates worth over a certain amount, trusts make sense to include in their estate plan. A living trust is a document in which certain assets of yours can be placed and managed. While you still have capacity, you remain both the trustor and trustee of the items in your trust, which means you maintain control of your trust’s contents. After you become incapacitated or pass away, your named trustee will take over the items in the trust and distribute accordingly. A trust is good for avoiding probate court and maintaining privacy. 
  3. Advance Healthcare Directive. This document goes by different names and is illustrative of a major reason why many people do not create an estate plan for themselves: they are deeply uncomfortable grappling with their own mortality. With a healthcare directive, you are able to dictate the medical care you want to receive when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes (incapacity). The directive can name a trusted friend or family member to direct the exact procedures you do and do not want to receive. 
  4. Power of Attorney. Many people are familiar with this terminology but may not recognize that there are many types. For example, you may choose to create a healthcare power of attorney, which accomplishes many of the same things as a healthcare directive. Another common type is financial, which allows others to engage in certain financial transactions on your behalf. Generally, power of attorney may be durable, which goes into effect as soon as you sign it, or springing, which only activates when you have lost capacity.

Conclusion

Many Floridians put off creating a plan for their estate until it is, unfortunately, too late. Whatever the reason you might have been putting off creating yours, the best time to tackle your estate plan is today, while you are of sound mind and body. Call the Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A. at 305-227-4030 to get started on your legacy.