Florida Estate Planning Documents
Estate planning is necessary for anyone who owns any amount of property that they wish to pass down to someone else. This is also necessary to prepare for emergency situations such as sudden illness or incapacity.
It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only necessary for elderly or wealthy individuals. In fact, almost everyone should establish at least a simple estate plan as soon as they reach the age of 18. This is to avoid a hassle in court and ultimately, prepare for unforeseen consequences.
This article discusses necessary estate planning documents and the general purpose of each one. We’ve included PDF samples for each of these documents below. If you’d like further information, refer to our extensive guide on estate planning in Florida.
Examples Of Estate Planning Documents
Last Will and Testament
The Florida Last Will and Testament is a legal form that articulates a person’s desires regarding asset distribution after they pass away. When someone drafts a will, they also name beneficiaries and appoints a personal representative or executor for the estate. This document also contains details such as family heirlooms, etc. It’s ideal that a will is updated at least once every several years.
Last Will and Testament PDF
Petition for Formal Administration
A Petition for Formal Administration is the standard form used to open a probate case. When somebody passes away in Florida, they’re assets and property almost always need to go through probate to determine who should receive assets of the deceased. Florida requires an attorney for probate to be present throughout the process. Although this is the standard form, there are two other types of probate forms for estates that are valued at less than $75,000.
Petition for Formal Administration PDF
Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
Establishing a durable power of attorney for finances allows a person to make financial decisions on someone’s behalf after they become incapacitated or pass away. Essentially, a POA acts in someone’s legally documented best interests when they’re unable to do so themselves.
Durable Power of Attorney PDF
Health Care Power of Attorney (POA)
A health care Power of Attorney is also referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive for Health Care. This legal form allows someone to choose their patient advocate and document their wishes regarding healthcare decisions in the event they become incapacitated or pass away.
Health Care Power of Attorney PDF
Revocable Living Trust
A Florida Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning document that names specific beneficiaries to receive a certain amount of assets throughout a defined period of time. This differs from a will in that it goes into effect immediately as opposed to only after someone passes away. When someone sets up a trust, their property contained within the trust may also avoid or minimize probate and receive certain tax benefits.
Revocable Living Trust PDF
Special Needs Trust (SNT)
Special Needs Trusts are a type of trust that assists children or adults who are limited by a physical or mental disability and require government assistance or special care. When someone establishes a special needs trust, it provides them with the necessary care outlined within the document in the absence of the caregiver.
Special Needs Trust PDF
The Florida Living Will allows someone to document their final wishes while they are still alive and of a sound mind. When someone passes away, wills enter probate to ensure assets are distributed to beneficiaries named within will.
Living Will PDF
Appointment of Guardianship
The State of Florida allows both voluntary and involuntary guardianship. When someone appoints a guardian, this protects a child’s interests by ensuring someone is there to make decisions on the child’s behalf. There is also adult guardianship for adults who require a certain level of care (i.e. elderly individuals)
Appointment of Guardianship PDF
Where To Keep Your Documents
All important estate planning documents should be in a safe place and the personal representative should know where these documents are located. It is an emotional time when someone passes away. Such a time can be exacerbated when the loved ones of the deceased cannot find important documents, keys to safety deposit boxes, financial statements and other necessary information.
It is essential to create a list of where all important information can be located and give the list to someone you trust and to keep extra copies of your important papers in a fire-proof box. Your lawyer should also have copies of all your pertinent documents.
Setting Up An Estate Plan
As previously stated, estate planning is paramount for adults of all ages. This plan should be updated every several years. Having this plan in place ensures safety and comfort for yourself and loved ones. This can also help avoid issues with probate and even minimize or avoid taxes on an estate.
If you have further questions on estate planning documents and how they can benefit you or your family, set up a free consultation with one of our estate planning lawyers today.