The Best Gift from Dad on Father’s Day

June 18, 2020

Father’s Day is a special time to celebrate the lifelong dedication of our special man. This year, we celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21st. Hopefully, memories of dad conjure up images of learning how to ride a bike, building a fort in the living room, or watching a good ballgame together.  While a ballgame sounds great during these isolating times, any 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. 

A father normally sees himself as a provider and voluntarily takes on the responsibility of his family’s financial stability. What better way to provide for your family than having proper estate planning documents in place? An effective estate plan will help provide for the family after dad passes away or if dad becomes ill or incapacitated. You do not have to be “old” to do estate planning. It is much better to get legal paperwork done as soon as you have children. Likewise, if you have a father who is getting older and never created any estate planning documents, now is the time to act.  

The next step is reaching out to an experienced estate planning attorney. Below is a list of documents that most commonly comprise any good estate plan:

Durable Power of Attorney

Imagine you become ill and are confined to your home or suffer an accident and must remain in a hospital for an extended period of time. Who will handle your financial matters, such as paying your bills, visiting your bank, renewing insurance policies, etc.? This is where a Power of Attorney comes into play as one of the most important documents you will ever sign.  

The most common Power of Attorney is the Durable Power of Attorney.  A Durable Power of Attorney is a crucial legal document that functions while you are alive and allows you to select a person (the “agent”) to “step into your shoes” in case of your sudden mental or physical incapacity. The agent will be able to make legal and financial decisions and conduct transactions on your behalf. The Power of Attorney document ends when a person passes away. Note that if you created this document prior to October of 2011, it is time to update it as the laws in Florida have changed. 

Health Care Surrogate & Living Will

This document used to be an afterthought, but the global pandemic has certainly put a spotlight on this document.  A Health Care Surrogate, also known as a Health Care Proxy or Health Care Directive, allows you to plan 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 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 do not 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 regarding life sustaining procedures.  Living Wills include a set of legal instructions about the treatment you wish to receive.  You can revoke or revise a valid Living Will at any time.

A Will

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 (also known as a Revocable 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.
  • If you own real estate in your own name, then you DEFINTELY need a Trust.  Contact us for a consultation on why this is the case. 
  • 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.

You can turn dad’s wishful thinking into an estate plan that will provide peace of mind for the entire family. Our law firm can conduct all consultations over the phone and work to facilitate the signing of all documents right from your home.  Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.  Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at  (954) 251-0332 or to receive a free personalized consultation today.