Estate planning may sound like something wealthy people do to make sure their businesses, mansions, and money go to the people they wish after they die. In fact, it goes far beyond making a will, and it’s something every adult, at every stage of life, ought to do, whether or not they have financially significant assets. Estate planning, especially establishing advance directives and establishing power of attorney is vital to take care of now.
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to make choices about your health care before that care is needed. For example, you can set out your instructions for your care circumstances like an accident that leaves you unconscious; whether or not you want to be sustained on life support, and in what circumstances; your desires in case you become terminally ill or mentally ill. You can also establish your wishes for what is to be done with your body in case of your death. Do you want to be an organ donor? Would you want your body donated to a medical school or for research? Most commonly, advance directives for health care are handled through a living will or a health care proxy, which is a specific type of power of attorney, granted for making health care decisions.
Power of Attorney
In addition to health care decisions, you can designate someone to make financial or business decisions on your behalf, if you are not capable. That person you grant power of attorney is called an attorney-in-fact. By planning ahead, you have the opportunity to make considered choices. You can designate different attorneys-in-fact for health care and financial decisions, or choose one person to handle both.
Florida enacted new legislation in 2011 that made changes to the ways power of attorney documents are established and implemented. One important change is that power of attorney documents must now include a much more comprehensive list of authorities granted to the attorney-in-fact. Where the law once assumed that authorities not specifically excluded in a power of attorney document were included, it is now assumed that authorities not specifically included are excluded.
Providing For Children
If you have minor children, and especially if you’re a single parent, you need to include provisions for those children in your will. You need to make sure you’ve named the people you want to become their legal guardian after your passing, and that you’ve done so in a legally binding way. Likewise, you’ll need to ensure that any life insurance benefits are used as you wish for the support of your children. If you don’t already have life insurance, getting covered will be an important part of planning for the future care of your children.
Estate Planning Is For Everyone
Estate planning should cover all aspects of your current life, whatever that looks like. In addition to leaving instructions for your own care and finances, it covers issues like care of your pets if something happens to you, and access to your home and distribution of your personal property. That property may not have high monetary value, but there are likely items that hold high sentimental value, and you should be able to decide who should have them by designating beneficiaries and a trusted executor to carry your wishes out. The trust and estate planning attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie, Finkenbinder & Bondy can guide you through the process of making an estate plan that covers the important matters in your life today, and into the future. Call or contact us online for a consultation and to learn more about estate planning for your specific stage of life.