Father’s Day is a time to celebrate our appreciation for everything that our old man does for us, day in and day out, over the course of a lifetime. That special day may be filled with a ballgame, barbeque in the backyard or a trip to the beach.
While a ballgame sounds great, any real dad will tell you that the true reward is having a sense of accomplishment, in knowing you left everything on the field when providing for your family. What better way to provide for your family than having proper estate planning documents in place? An effective estate plan will help provide for your family, even after you’re gone.
The reality is that you should not wait until old age to obtain these documents; instead you should obtain them as soon as you have children. The following is a list of documents that will make your family’s life easier, when you are no longer able to:
Health Care Surrogate & Living Will
A Health Care Surrogate, also known as a Health Care Proxy, allows you to plan ahead for difficult medical decisions. It allows you to name someone (the “agent”) that will make health care decisions for you in case you are unable to make them yourself. This is crucial because it prevents disagreements within the family as to who should make these critical decisions. Such decisions include consenting to certain medical procedures, seeking a second opinion, obtaining medical records, or transferring you to a different medical facility.
If you don’t prepare a Health Care Surrogate document, and you fall ill and cannot make your own medical decisions, then the healthcare facility will follow Florida law to determine who is responsible for your healthcare decisions.
A Living Will allows you to state your wishes about your end-of-life medical care. This allows your health care surrogate to best carry out your health care wishes in regards to life sustaining procedures. Living Wills include a set of legal instructions about the treatment you wish to receive if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You can revoke or revise a valid Living Will at any time.
Durable Power of Attorney
The most common Power of Attorney used with estate planning is the Durable Power of Attorney sometimes referred to as a financial power of attorney, general power of attorney, or a power of attorney for property. It allows you (the “principal”) to select a person (the “agent”) to “step into your shoes” if you become mentally or physically incapacitated.
A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is an important estate-planning document that, although losing in popularity to a Living Trust, can still provide crucial financial organization.
- Wills are used to designate who should receive your assets upon your death. The people or charities you designate are called beneficiaries.
- Wills allow you to appoint someone to become “Personal Representative” of your estate. This person will be responsible for carrying out your last wishes according to what you wrote in the Will.
- If you have minor children, you can appoint a Guardian(s) who will care for them in case of your death. This reduces lawsuits that arise over custody in cases of sudden or unexpected death.
A Living Trust
A Living Trust (Trust) is a primary estate-planning document that is used in place of a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Assets are then transferred into the Trust.
- Trusts are used to by-pass probate. This means that upon your death, all assets in the Trust pass to the beneficiaries through the Trust, and not through any court process.
- Trusts can provide your beneficiaries with asset protection.
- Trusts are fully revocable: the creator can change any terms or completely revoke the Trust.
- Trusts are private documents that unlike Wills do not become a part of the public record.
Ultimately, a father wants to leave a legacy of prosperity for his children. You can make that happen by turning wishful thinking into an estate plan that your family can follow. Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a personalized consultation regarding estate planning.