A good estate plan should include six important documents. Many clients are surprised to realize that three of these important components involve medical issues rather than financial ones.
If your plan is missing one of these elements, your loved ones may have to deal with added legal expenses and delays, or they may be unable to assist you in an emergency. When you have these essential documents up-to-date, you can rest easy knowing that you have taken the right steps to prepare for the future.
A Trust Can Be the Key to Security
One or more trusts often serve as the cornerstone of a thorough estate plan. There are different types of trusts used to accomplish different goals.
For instance, you might use:
- A revocable living trust to avoid probate
- An irrevocable asset protection trust to become eligible for long-term care assistance through Florida Medicaid
- A charitable remainder trust to reduce tax liability while receiving income and supporting a favorite cause
- A special needs trust to provide for the care of a disabled loved one
The trust holds property for the benefit of trust beneficiaries. Depending on the situation, you might be the initial beneficiary, and your loved ones would be successor beneficiaries who receive assets after you pass. This can allow your property to pass without the delays and expense of the probate process. Your estate planning attorney could explain how a trust could help you accomplish your goals.
Wills Are Always Essential
Whether or not you have a trust, you should have a valid, updated will in your estate plan. A will can reinforce terms in your trust and cover property that fails to make it into the trust. Additionally, you can use a will for purposes that can’t be handled by a trust, such as naming a guardian for minors.
Power of Attorney Documents Protect You If You Should Become Incapacitated
If an accident or illness renders you incapacitated, who would be able to handle your financial, legal, and business affairs? Many people mistakenly believe their relatives are automatically able to take over and manage their accounts and pay bills. However, this is only possible if you have established a durable power of attorney for your finances.
A power of attorney authorizes someone you trust to make decisions and take actions on your behalf. Your estate planning lawyer can create a power of attorney for financial matters and a separate document, referred to in Florida as a Health Care Surrogate designation, that enables a loved one to authorize medical treatment if you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions.
Additional Health Care Documents Safeguard Your Medical Needs
In addition to a Health Care Surrogate designation, you should also have your estate planning lawyer draw up a living will and a HIPAA authorization.
A living will allows you to designate your choices of treatment for end-of-life care. With a HIPAA release or authorization, you can enable family members or friends to communicate with doctors about your medical condition and assist with health insurance and related matters protected by federal privacy laws.
A Florida Estate Planning Attorney Can Review Your Documents to Ensure You Have What You Need
Life is full of change, and your estate plan should be regularly reviewed and amended to keep up with your needs and priorities, as well as changes in the law. To talk to the experienced team at Sawyer & Sawyer, P.A., about the right documents for your estate plan, contact us today to arrange a confidential consultation.