Hands of a man in a suit signing on one of the most important estate planning documents.
Published on September 17, 2021 by Cipparone & Cipparone PA

Would you let a stranger post on your personal social media account? Would you let them make major decisions about your property or even your health? Without preparing the right estate planning documents, that could happen to you. Don’t let your legacy be tarnished or destroyed. Here are the 5 most important estate planning documents to protect your family and property.

1. Last Will and Testament

Most people know that they need a will, otherwise known as a last will and testament, but many put it off until they reach an advanced age. What if the unexpected happens? Are your assets in order? Is your family protected?

The Florida Intestacy Statutes note that, in some circumstances, if you die without a will, also known as “dying intestate,” the legal system has the right to take over and dictate how assets are managed. While it might be comforting to know that there is a generic succession plan in the untimely event of your death, the statutes do not take any of your wishes into account.

For this reason, your will is first on our list of estate planning documents.

2. Advance Directive

An advance directive – sometimes referred to as a living will – is an estate planning document that tells your family and medical professionals what your wishes are in the event that you can’t.

For example, if you are in a car accident or have had a stroke, it outlines how far doctors should take your treatment, and at what point you want them to stop. If you have strong feelings about how you want to be cared for in a potential end-of-life scenario, you will want to invest some time into building out an advanced directive for you and your loved ones.

3. Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

While an advanced directive – or living will – documents your explicit wishes in the event of your incapacitation, a durable power of attorney for healthcare appoints someone else to make those decisions for you.

Typically, people appoint a spouse or family member, as a healthcare power of attorney will literally have your life in their hands. Choose someone that you trust explicitly and would pursue actions that align with your core beliefs. Also, be sure to designate a backup agent in case your primary agent is not available.

4. Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is designed to address and protect your assets, while empowering the Settlors (or the makers of the trust) with the ability to amend or revoke the document over time. A revocable living trust allows you to keep control of your financial matters throughout your life, but appoints someone to take over if you can’t. It also specifies who can decide when you are too incapacitated to handle your affairs yourself.

It’s important to note that not all of your financial affairs are covered by this kind of trust. But it does make it easier for someone to take over when it becomes necessary. Not all estates will need a revocable trust, but it can save your family a great deal of time and money in probate in the event of your death.

5. Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney gives someone else the power to communicate with and take care of things like your tax accounts, credit cards, mortgages and other financial relationships. Without this estate planning document that dictates who can act on your financial behalf, companies, organizations and businesses will be unable to deal with anyone but you. With this type of estate planning document in your name, the person you appoint can make financial decisions and take action on your behalf.

One item to note, however, is that a durable power of attorney for finances is only active during your lifetime. Once you pass away, it is no longer valid and your appointed agent will no longer hold the same legal power.

Protect Your Legacy

Estate planning documents don’t just protect you after your death, but are an important part of managing your life. These different types of estate planning documents can help prepare your family for the future while giving you peace of mind that your legacy will stay intact.

If you still need to plan your estate, the estate planning attorneys at The Law Office of Cipparone & Cipparone are dedicated to helping people develop the legal documents that will protect you and your family.

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**This blog is for general informational purposes only. Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A. does not distribute legal advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A.

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