How You Can Prepare for Your Estate Planning Meeting
While meeting with an estate planning attorney may not be on your wish list to accomplish during your lifetime or among your New Year’s resolutions, it’s not something you should put off until you’re on your deathbed. Many people are intimidated by the prospect of planning their estate, however, in most cases it is much easier if you come prepared.
A typical Florida estate plan consists of the following important documents: last will and testament; Revocable trust (for many people); Legal power; health care surrogate; Living will; and Declaration of Pre-Need for a Guardian. The Revocable Trust (if one is created), Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Pre-Need Guardian Statement are designed to operate during your lifetime and provide guidance on how your affairs are handled personal and financial during his lifetime. . By contrast, the revocable trust and the last will and testament control how your property is distributed after your death.
When you meet with your estate planning attorney, they will guide you through the various planning options and options available to you so that your legal documents reflect your intentions. To make your time with your attorney more productive, the following is a list of things to discuss and prepare for before the meeting:
Create a list of your assets and liabilities. This list should include the value of your home (including the mortgage), bank accounts, investment accounts, business interests, valuable personal belongings (for example, art or jewelry), life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. For each asset listed, include an estimate of its current value or balance, as well as whether you own the asset in your individual name or jointly with someone else, such as your spouse or children. This information will help your attorney guide you through the planning process.
Agents during his lifetime
Health Care Surrogate – Who will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The person you name to act as your health care surrogate will have the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Think about who should be appointed to this position, along with a successor.
Power of Attorney: Who will take care of your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. The person you name to act as your attorney in fact will act as your agent with respect to your financial affairs during your lifetime. The power of attorney will be effective immediately after you sign it. Think about who should be appointed to this position, along with a successor.
Living Will: End of Life Decisions. The person you name to serve as your surrogate will act as your agent with respect to your financial affairs during your lifetime. The power of attorney will be effective immediately after you sign it. Think about who should be appointed to this position, along with a successor.
Administration after his death
That you have the capacity and ability to serve as your personal representative(s). The individual or professional entity you select to serve as the personal representative of your estate will handle the settlement of your estate after your death. Your duties will include collecting your assets, paying debts, expenses, and any taxes that may be due, and then distributing the remaining assets of the estate to your beneficiaries. In married couples, each spouse normally appoints the other to act as their personal representative. The next consideration is who or what entity will serve as their successor, if they do not survive or are unable to serve. You can name more than one person to serve in this role, but under Florida law, they must be family members or residents of the state. Most importantly, it is important that the individuals or entities selected are trustworthy.
Who has the capacity and ability to serve as your trustee(s). The individual or professional entity you select to serve as trustee of your Trust, upon your death or inability to serve, will be responsible for managing your financial affairs, while you are alive, and for settling your financial affairs after your death. Like a personal representative, his duties will include collecting your assets, paying debts, expenses and any taxes that may be due, and then distributing the remaining assets to your beneficiaries. With married couples, both spouses typically serve as trustees, for as long as they are able. The next consideration is who or what entity will serve as their successor, if they do not survive or are unable to serve. You may appoint more than one person to serve in this role, with no restrictions on family membership or state residency. Most importantly, it is important that the individuals or entities selected are trustworthy.
Items of personal property and to whom they should pass after your death. Create a written document stating how you would like to dispose of your personal items (wedding ring, jewelry, car(s), baseball card collection, etc.) at the time of your death, even if you don’t think they have any value monetary. Without a separate written statement, your personal items will pass to a surviving spouse or be divided equally among your children or beneficiaries. The itemized list can potentially prevent family disputes over items with sentimental value but no monetary value.
Distribution Plan of your Estate. How, to whom, and in what amounts you want the remaining assets of your estate to be distributed is the next important decision you will need to consider. Your assets can be distributed to any person (family member, friend, acquaintance, etc.) or charity you choose. Assets can be distributed directly or over an extended period of time (they reach a certain age, until the beneficiary needs or wants funds, etc.). There is no wrong decision as you are free to distribute your assets however you want.