4 Important Documents to Protect Your Family
With 2018 in full swing, many of us have new year resolutions that we are focused on achieving. Time moves forward, and goals drop off as we become busy caring for our family; life and calendars get full. It can be challenging to set aside time and prepare for the future. We plan so many other things for our family and “legally protecting them” doesn’t always make the big to-do list. Sadly, things can get complicated quickly if a loved one unexpectedly passes away.
We want to encourage our local families to plan and to be informed in the event of unforeseen circumstances by creating an estate plan. Taking these steps to protect your family is much easier than you might think.
It takes about 1 hour of your time to document your information and less than an hour to review the clauses with us as your sign and notarize your documents.
Most of this can be done over the phone or via email. Here are 4 important documents to protect your family:
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney (Financial Power of Attorney) is a legal document which allows you to designate another to make your financial and business decisions. What happens if you were to become incapacitated or mentally unstable, unable to make financial or business decisions such as buying, selling, or paying your debts? What if you just wanted a back up to assist you with carrying out your financial decisions? With a Durable Power of Attorney, you may designate someone you trust to make your financial and business decisions for you. If you are a single person, a single parent, or you own your own business, this is an important document to accomplish tasks if you are unavailable or in the event of your incapacity.
A Health Care Surrogate
A Health Care Surrogate (Medical Power of Attorney) allows you to appoint a surrogate who may also gain information about your health condition that otherwise would be withheld due to HIPAA privacy regulations. What would happen if you were unable to communicate your wishes regarding your health care or medical condition? This legal document provides access to your health information to your surrogate and allows them to make decisions relating to your care and comfort in the event of your incapacity.
The time it takes you to appoint these surrogates will be well worth the effort when you know you are taking care of your family and providing for their well-being.
A Living Will is a legal document in which you declare, in the event of a terminal or end-of-life condition, to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging measures if the only option is to keep you alive on a machine. While this is an unpleasant decision to face, it is more distressing to your loved ones who may be faced with these decisions, especially if there is a difference of opinion among family members. This document assists your family and helps diminish the burden of those difficult choices.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is a document which allows you to specify who will handle your property and estate, who will care for your minor children (guardianship), and who will inherit your assets. How your assets are titled is a factor in asset distribution as well. If you do not have a Will, the Florida statute for asset distribution will apply to your estate and you will likely need an attorney to distribute these assets.
Once a Will is established, signed and documented, you do not have to redo your Will for years unless there is a major change. At DSM Law, we ask that you appoint 2 or more people when possible so that your wishes may be implemented without updating your documents.
To start the conversation, you should be able to answer 3 important questions:
- Who should handle the distribution of your estate?
- Who do you want to inherit your estate?
- Who do you want to take care of your minor children (guardianship)?
A Will must be drafted properly and in Florida, we have specifics guidelines that include a Will being signed in the presence of 2 witnesses and a notary public. As our client, we will assess your current situation to define estate planning options and to determine if a Will or a Trust is best for your family.
It’s the start of a new year and we move forward with renewed energy and focus on our family and on our goals. Take a proactive step and contact us for a free 30-minute consultation. Together, we will review your personal situation and discuss the best options for planning and protection of your family.