Frequently Asked Questions: Estate Planning
Estate planning is a new experience for many adults and understandably brings many questions. As your trusted Florida estate planning attorney, we’re always here to help answer your questions, so let’s discuss some of our most frequently asked questions about estate planning. These answers to common estate planning questions should give you more confidence in the estate planning process and how to proceed with your own estate plan.
Why do I need an estate planning attorney?
This is a very common question surrounding wills and estate planning! While it is possible to create a will or estate plan on your own, it’s usually not a wise move. Simply put, a qualified estate planning attorney gives you peace of mind when creating some of your most important documents.
A Florida estate planning attorney has the expertise to advise on your individual life and asset situation. They know exactly what documents and forms you need to protect your loved ones and your estate. Working with a qualified attorney also ensures your estate plan is valid and legally binding. Estate planning attorneys also know when and how to update your estate plan. All of this gives you complete peace of mind that your wishes for the end of your life and after your death are carried out without placing extra stress on your grieving loved ones.
What’s included in an estate plan?
Each estate plan is unique and individual to the person creating it. Whether your estate and assets are complex or very simple, an estate planning attorney can walk you through what’s recommended. Below are some of the common documents found in estate plans.
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Designation of Health Care Surrogates
- Living Wills
- Designation of Preneed Guardian
- Designation of Health Care Surrogates for Minor Children
- Designation for Guardianship for Minor Children
Depending on your estate and life stage, you may need more or less than what’s listed here. A trusted estate planning attorney will be able to guide you based on your unique needs, wishes, and situation.
What is the difference between a durable power of attorney and general power of attorney?
Most people have heard of a power of attorney, but is it the same as a durable power of attorney? Not exactly. We go into detail about the role and duties of a durable power of attorney here, but in summary, a durable power of attorney can make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or disabled. A general power of attorney’s authority goes away once you become incapacitated.
Who can serve as a durable power of attorney and health care surrogate?
When you create your estate plan, you’ll designate several roles to trusted people in your life. Two of those roles are the durable power of attorney and health care surrogate. A durable power of attorney can make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated, and a health care surrogate can make any nescessary medical decisions for you, if you’re unable to do so. These can be the same person or two separate people. In Florida, the person must be 18 years or older to serve these roles and should be someone you trust and know your wishes.
Do I need an estate plan if I don’t own many assets?
Yes, absolutely! A common misconception with estate plans is that it’s just for the wealthy. Even if you have a simple estate with minimal assets, it’s still wise to create an estate plan. An estate plan helps protect and distribute your assets upon your death and if you become incapacitated.
If you die without an estate plan or will, the Florida courts will decide how to distribute your assets and guardianship for any minor children. You can ensure this doesn’t happen and that your wishes are carried out by creating an estate plan with an estate planning attorney, regardless of your estate’s size. Then, as your assets and life change through the years, you can easily update your estate plan to stay current.
If you don’t see your estate planning question answered here, we answer many other common questions in our blog. Find answers to questions like when to update your estate plan, what’s the difference between a will and trust, what is probate, and more!
Another question we’re often asked is, when should I create an estate plan? Today! Life is unpredictable and constantly changes, so take the next step to complete your estate plan by requesting a free consultation with the law professionals at Merriman Law Firm. You can trust Merriman Law Firm to walk with you throughout the process to give you the knowledge and confidence to make decisions for you and your family.