A comprehensive estate plan ensures that your loved ones can fulfill your last wishes
and settle your estate if you become incapacitated or in the case of death. Estate plans
include a variety of documents that serve a specific purpose regarding medical
decisions, giving possessions to family members and friends, and handling the financial
aspects of your estate. These documents ensure your loved ones know how you’d like
your estate handled efficiently and conveniently. Here are the primary documents you
should include in your estate plan.
Last Will and Testament
A will is an essential part of your estate plan. Wills allow you to direct how your
possessions should be divided among listed beneficiaries after you pass away. You can
include many items in your will, from family heirlooms to secondary vacation homes.
You can also allocate a certain amount of funds for specific purposes, such as a
grandchild’s college fund or to make a charitable donation. If you have minor children,
you should also name a guardian for them in your will.
Advanced Healthcare Directive
Advanced healthcare directives are legal documents that list your healthcare preferences
if you become incapacitated. Types of situations where an advanced healthcare directive
may go into effect would be if you’re in a coma, badly injured, or terminally ill. A living
will is an advanced healthcare directive explicitly stating your preferences for various
medical treatments if you cannot communicate your desires.
Name a Healthcare Surrogate
A healthcare surrogate is someone you appoint to make medical decisions on your
behalf. While an advanced healthcare directive gives general instructions on the type of
care you’d like to receive, a healthcare surrogate designates a point person to make
those decisions for you. One of the benefits of naming a healthcare surrogate is that one
person is in charge of making medical decisions during stressful situations.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (or POA) gives someone legal authority to make decisions
on your behalf while you’re incapacitated. These decisions could be medical, financial,
or managerial. The person only has the legal power to take over specific tasks listed in a
durable POA, such as handling day-to-day finances, maintaining a home, or running a
Living trusts allow you to transfer property and possessions to your beneficiaries while
avoiding probate. Assets are transferred automatically from you to the beneficiary upon
your death. Assets such as money for funeral expenses, safe deposit boxes, bank
accounts, stocks, and bonds can be placed in a living trust.
Some types of assets allow for beneficiary designations, authorizing you to name
someone to receive ownership of the asset after you pass away. Possessions with
beneficiary designations and a “payable on death” or “transfer on death” designation
don’t need to go through probate. Beneficiary designations also take precedence over a
beneficiary named in a will, so it’s essential that what’s stated in your will matches the
designation on the asset. Types of assets with beneficiary designations may include life
insurance policies, 401k plans, savings accounts, CDs, and savings bonds.
Peppler Law: Orlando Estate Planning Attorney
The above documents are just some elements you should include in your estate plan.
Our estate planning attorney, Thomas R. Peppler, will help you determine the best
action for your estate plan based on your circumstances. Our office can assist you with
all your estate planning needs, from ensuring your documents are legally valid to
executing probate administration. Contact us at 407-316-2045 for a consultation.