Estate Planning During the Coronavirus
By Christian Horde, Esq.
During these uncertain times, it is natural to start thinking about whether you have your financial and health affairs in order. You may also be worrying about an elder in your family and what will happen to his or her hard-earned assets, if there were a medical crisis. Although we believe estate planning should always be top-of-mind, now more than ever, it is important to ensure your estate planning documents are up to date and they express your unique wishes.
Important Estate Planning Documents
At a minimum, we recommend every person 18 years or older have the following basic estate planning documents:
- Last Will & Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate
- Living Will
- Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian
Last Will & Testament
The Last Will & Testament allows you to dictate who your assets and property will go to after you pass away. The document names a personal representative who will handle your estate assets and distribute them according to the terms of your Will. Without a Will, assets are distributed according to the intestate laws in Florida and those laws may be consistent with your wishes. It is important to have a Will completed to ensure peace of mind.
Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney allows you to name an agent to have authority to protect and manage your financial affairs. This can be especially useful for older adults who need assistance during difficult times. A Durable Power of Attorney withstands incapacity. Without a comprehensive and current Durable Power of Attorney, your family may not be able to protect your assets and they may need to go to court to secure a Guardianship over you, in order to make decisions on your behalf.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
This document allows a named surrogate to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to yourself. They can speak with the doctors and staff, have access to health information under HIPAA, and make medical decisions on your behalf. Without one, the laws in Florida appoint certain individuals (a proxy) to make decisions for you which may not be the ones you want making these health decisions.
A Living Will states whether someone wants to be kept artificially alive if two doctors agree that they are in a (1) persistent vegetative state, (2) terminal condition, or (3) end-stage condition, AND they are unable to make medical decisions at that time. This document is crucial to ensure someone has their end of life wishes met.
Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian
This document allows you to name a guardian for your person and your property should a guardianship ever be initiated against you. This document is filed with the court, if guardianship proceeding initiated, as evidence of who you want to be your guardian. Guardianship may be necessary in some situations if there are no estate documents in place, if a family member is being exploited or an agent is not acting properly. It is important to have a preneed guardian as a backup to ensure your wishes are honored.
Curbside Document Signing Service a
These documents need witnesses and notarization to be valid in Florida. Currently, due to the social distancing measures in place, our firm is offering curbside document signing services. This curbside service allows the documents to be properly executed in the safety and comfort of your vehicle, while meeting the statutory execution requirements under Florida Law.
Please contact us today at The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller 407-422-3017 to schedule a FREE 15-minute telephone or ZOOM Conference to discuss your estate planning needs.