Estate Planning

Estate Planning
Do you have a Last Will and Testament?

I like this definition of estate planning set forth by Wikipedia:

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person’s life, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate during the person’s life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax. Estate planning includes planning for incapacity as well as a process of reducing or eliminating uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.

The tools we use in order to accomplish the above outlined objectives include documents such as the Last Will and Testament, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Healthcare Surrogate Designations and HIPPA releases, amongst other tools. These tools allow you to do the following (non-exhaustive list):

  1. Arrange your affairs so that your assets will go to the parties you wish in the amounts you wish.
  2. Specify guardians for your children
  3. Specify your end of life wishes in the event you are in a comatose or vegetative state with no reasonable chance for recovery.
  4. Specify who you would like to handle the matters related to your death and settling your estate.
  5. Deciding who can provide informed consent on your behalf if you are unconscious and can’t make healthcare decisions on your own.
  6. Grant  the power to make certain decisions on your behalf (like selling property or managing assets).

An additional benefit of estate planning is that it allows you to avoid unnecessary exposure to liability and potential tax penalties. It is simply the process of planning for what happens in the event you pass away or if something happens to incapacitate you. If you don’t set out these specifics, the default laws of the state of Florida will apply. While they do their best to anticipate what you would want, the better choice is to choose exactly how you would like things to work out.

If you would like to discuss your estate plan, please contact us today.