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Gainesville, FL Estate Planning, Will & Trust Law Blog

Friday, October 25, 2019

Estate Planning Awareness Week: The Importance to You and Your Family of Having an Estate Plan

In 2008, Congress recognized the need for the public to understand the importance and benefits of estate planning by passing House Resolution 1499, which designated the third week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Nevertheless, according to a 2019 survey carried out by Caring.com, 57% of adults in the United States have not prepared any estate planning documents such as a will or trust despite the fact that 76% viewed them as important. Many of the respondents said this was due to procrastination, but many others mistakenly believed that it was not necessary because they did not have many assets.

Why should you have an estate plan?

An estate plan serves many functions, but a few main services that a thorough estate plan provides you is the assurance that your assets are protected, a plan is in place in the event you become ill or incapacitated, and your property is passed down according to your wishes. 

What key topics should you consider?

  • When most people are asked about estate planning, the first thing that comes to mind is a will and sometimes a trust. What most people do not think of are the ramifications of not having either of these estate planning documents. If you do not have these important documents, the laws of intestacy will determine who will inherit your property. In the vast majority of cases, state intestacy laws and who a person wishes would inherit their property at their passing are not the same. In addition, someone appointed by the court, instead of a trusted person of your choosing, will be in charge of caring for any children or pets. Spelling out your wishes in a will or also a trust, as the case may be, will also prevent unnecessary confusion, anxiety, and expense for other family members when you are gone.
  • Should you become incapacitated, have you considered who will manage your assets? A durable power of attorney allows an individual to designate another to make financial and property decisions on their behalf should they become unable to handle their own affairs. 
  • While a durable power of attorney allows a person to make financial decisions on your behalf, who would make health care decisions for you should you become unable to? A health care surrogate enables a person to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are otherwise unable to speak for yourself.
  • A living will memorializes your wishes concerning your end of life care. Decisions such as whether you would like to receive life support should you enter into a vegetative state or terminal condition is another tool which allows you to speak for yourself when you are unable to.
  • When creating an estate plan, it is important compile a list of all of your accounts and other important information, including bank and investment accounts, titles to vehicles and homes, credit card accounts or loans, digital accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and passwords, Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates. As discussed in prior blogs, your assets are an element that will dictate you estate plan. Not only does this list assist your attorney during the drafting process, but it also assists your loved ones who may be needed to manage your property when you are incapacitated or settle your estate once you are gone.

 

Consult an estate planning attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you and your family members create an estate plan tailored to meet each of your unique needs and carry out your wishes or help you update a pre-existing estate plan you may have. We can provide each family member with guidance and information about the options available to them. In addition, an estate plan will provide you and your family members with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that there are plans in place for your care should you become ill or incapacitated and that your wishes will be honored once you pass away. Call us today to set up a meeting.



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From our office in Gainesville, the estate planning firm of White, Crouch & Mills, P.A. advises and represents clients in communities throughout Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Putnam County, Clay County, Bradford County, Union County and Gilchrist County in North Central Florida. Call us at 352-372-1011 or contact the firm by email to arrange an initial consultation with us today.



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