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Answers To Common Questions About Florida Estate Planning

If you’re like most Americans, you likely suspect that you need an estate plan but haven’t yet created one. The good news is that estate planning is easier than you might think – with a little knowledge and the help of a good attorney, of course.

On this page, you’ll find answers to some of the most common estate planning questions that prospective clients ask. After reading, you can get answers to your own questions in a free 30-minute consultation at Erin Kirkwood Law, PLLC.

What is a living will?

The official term for a living will in Florida is a “health care directive” and is sometimes referred to as an “advance directive.” Whatever you call it, the purpose is the same: A living will is a document that states your intentions for end-of-life care and is to be used in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot make or communicate those decisions when that time comes.

Some of the most important topics addressed in a living will include the use of artificial life support, which treatments you want or don’t want if suffering from a terminal disease and whether these decisions change if you are in what doctors believe to be a permanent vegetative state. Making these decisions now gives you control over your end-of-life care and spares your family members from having to make very difficult decisions for you.

What is a health care surrogate?

After writing your living will, you should designate someone you trust to act as your health care surrogate. This person will be responsible for carrying out or communicating your wishes as stated in the health care directive. And, because the document can’t cover every medical contingency that might arise, your health care surrogate is authorized to make medical care decisions on your behalf for scenarios not addressed in your living will.

When do I need power of attorney?

Power of attorney can be utilized in numerous scenarios. However, in an estate planning context, durable power of attorney refers to authorizing someone to make important financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The term “durable” means that the power of attorney designation will survive in the event that you become incapacitated.

Do I need to have an attorney create my estate plan?

Legally speaking, you can create an estate plan without an attorney. From a practical standpoint, however, it is unwise to take a DIY approach to estate planning. Remember that your estate planning documents will speak for you when you are no longer around or no longer have the capacity to speak for yourself. To avoid confusion, family tension and other issues, the documents need to be crystal clear, thorough and legally sound. The best (and sometimes only way) to achieve this is with the help of a skilled lawyer.

I am recently divorced. Should I update my estate plan?

Yes, now would be a great time to review and update your plan. It’s a good idea to review your will and other estate planning documents every few years and whenever you experience a significant change in life or family circumstances. Examples include getting married or divorced, having a child or losing a loved one, or acquiring significant assets that were not addressed in your original will.

Get Your Questions Answered In A Free Consultation

If you’ve been hesitating to create an estate plan because you don’t know enough about the process or the requirements, speaking to an attorney can put your mind at ease and give you the confidence that you need to get started. At Erin Kirkwood Law, PLLC, the firm’s attorney is pleased to offer free 30-minute consultations to all prospective clients. To schedule yours, call the office in Stuart, Florida, at 772-732-8863 or reach out online.