The year 2020 has been rough on everyone. Many people have been faced with unexpected illness and, in some cases, death. But 2021 is now upon us and with the New Year comes hope for better times. The New Year also brings with it a time of reflection and of resolve to achieve new goals. In every adult’s mind, getting their estate planning up to date ought to be one of those goals for 2021.
Estate planning allows you to reflect on your needs and desires in the event of your disability, illness, incapacity, or death. It allows you to provide and protect your loved ones as well. Estate planning uses legal instruments such as Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney to protect those needs and desires.
In the hands of an experienced attorney, the process of estate planning is not complicated. The key is to take action and get it done. Procrastinating until something happens can often present the most difficult (and sometimes impossible) obstacle. We see it on a regular basis—a family member asks to have a Power of Attorney prepared but the person it is intended for no longer has the capacity to sign it. Or a family member asks to have a Will prepared for their loved one. If the person lacks capacity—they’re too far out of it—then it’s too late.
Make a plan to see an experienced estate planning attorney in 2021. In fact, don’t just plan to see one—make the appointment. Ask the attorney about setting up the following estate documents for you:
Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This instrument allows you to appoint a person or persons who can make medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. It often includes HIPAA language so your loved ones can have medical information released to them.
Durable Power of Attorney: This instrument allows you to appoint a person or persons who can act on your behalf on personal and financial matters. Incapacity can make paying the bills a real challenge if you do not have a Durable POA.
Declaration of Living Will: This instrument allows you to express your wishes in the event you are faced with an end-of-life situation. Don’t end up in a situation like Terri Schiavo who lacked a Living Will. This resulted in her family fighting over what she would have wanted in an end-of-life situation. Ultimately, the courts had to decide the matter.
Revocable Living Trust: This instrument allows you to pass along your assets, such as real estate, without requiring a probate. This saves time, money and aggravation in the event of your death. The only people that like probate are attorneys…that ought to tell you something!
Last Will and Testament: This instrument allows you to designate a Guardian for your minor children and if you do not have a Trust, the Will allows you to direct how your assets will get distributed. If you do not decide these issues, Florida law will do it for you.
Resolution for 2021—Get your estate plan in order!