Estate Planning in Florida: A Checklist of Essential Documents

Estate planning is an important process that helps individuals and families in Florida prepare for the future and protect their assets. By creating an estate plan, individuals can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away, and that their loved ones are taken care of in the event of their incapacity. An estate plan in Florida typically includes some, if not all, of the following documents:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document grants someone else the authority to make financial and legal decisions on the person’s behalf.
  • Last Will and Testament: A Last Will and Testament in Florida is a legal document that specifies how a person’s assets and property will be distributed after they pass away. The document also allows the individual to appoint a guardian for any minor children and name an executor to manage the distribution of assets and the settling of debts and expenses. In Florida, a Last Will and Testament must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) and two witnesses. The will must be in writing and the testator must be of sound mind and 18 years of age or older. The will must also be voluntarily made, not under duress, and not obtained by fraud. If the will does not meet these requirements, it may be considered invalid and the assets may be distributed according to Florida’s laws of intestacy.
  • Living Will: A Living Will in Florida is a legal document that allows an individual to express their preferences for end-of-life medical treatment in the event that they become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. The document is also known as a “declaration” or “advance directive.” It allows an individual to specify the types of medical treatments they do or do not want to receive, such as life-sustaining treatments, artificial nutrition and hydration, and pain management. It also allows for the appointment of a healthcare surrogate to make decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. In Florida, a Living Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses or notarized to be considered valid.
  • Health Care Surrogate Designation: a healthcare surrogate designation is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint another person, known as a healthcare surrogate, to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. The healthcare surrogate has the authority to make decisions about the individual’s medical treatment, including decisions about life support and end-of-life care. The surrogate can also access the individual’s medical records and communicate with healthcare providers on the individual’s behalf. It is important to choose a healthcare surrogate you trust and who is willing to act in your best interest and is familiar with your healthcare wishes.
  • Revocable Trust Agreement: A revocable trust in Florida is a legal document that allows an individual, known as the grantor or settlor, to transfer assets into a trust while retaining the ability to modify or terminate the trust during their lifetime. The trust is often used to manage and distribute assets after the grantor’s death according to the terms set out in the trust document. In Florida, a revocable trust can be used for a variety of purposes, such as avoiding probate, reducing estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors, and providing for the care of loved ones.
  • HIPAA Release Form: This document authorizes the release of medical information to designated individuals.
  • Beneficiary Designations: This document designates the beneficiaries of various assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts.
  • Organ Donor Form – In Florida, an organ donor form is a legal document that allows individuals to make the decision to donate their organs, tissue, and/or eyes after death. Once completed and signed, the form is entered into the Florida Donor Registry, and the individual’s wishes regarding organ donation are honored upon their death.
  • Final Disposition Instructions (Intervivos Authorization) – Final Disposition Instructions in Florida refer to the instructions provided by a person for their own funeral or cremation arrangements before their death. The instructions can include things like type of service, type of casket, cemetery or cremation options and any other specific requests. These instructions are not legally binding, but they can be used as a guide for the executor of the estate or family members.

However, it is important to note that the specific documents included in an estate plan can vary depending on a person’s individual needs and circumstances. It’s also important to consult with an attorney experienced with estate planning, such as the attorneys at the Sherrard Law Group, to ensure your estate plan is legally binding and accurate. That is why we invite you to contact the Sherrard Law Group today to speak to a member of our legal team about your estate planning needs. We look forward to serving as your trusted legal representatives.

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