It’s important for all Florida adults, even those who don’t have children or any close relatives, to have an estate plan. In addition to addressing what happens to property and assets after death, an estate plan could cover many issues directly related to the creator.

One of the aspects of an effective estate plan is the instructions for what should happen if the estate owner becomes incapacitated. All adults should have a durable power of attorney for financial and legal decisions and an advance directive for medical decisions. An estate owner can use these documents to designate a trusted person to make medical and legal decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so on their own. If these documents have not been completed, there will decisions that even a spouse would be unable to make.

An individual can use trusts during their lifetime to manage assets and effectively replace a will in the event that they die. Including a trust in an estate plan can be beneficial for two main reasons. It can help avoid the probate process, and it can provide a safe and private way to distribute assets to heirs.

An attorney may inquire about the assets of a client before recommending certain legal documents to include in a personalized estate plan. Assistance may be provided for drafting powers of attorney, advance directives for health care, provisions for trusts, certain types of wills and more. In addition, legal counsel could explain how to avoid the probate process.