If Florida residents die without an estate plan, what happens to their assets is determined by the state. However, there is another important element to estate planning as well, and this involves making sure that someone can manage your finances and health care if you are unable to do so.
In Case of Incapacity
A power of attorney can appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are injured or become ill and cannot do so. A living will can outline what kind of care you prefer at the end of your life, and a health care proxy can appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. As an alternate or in addition to a financial power of attorney, placing assets in a revocable trust can protect them in case of incapacity if a successor trustee is named.
A revocable trust can also be used as your main estate planning document. Assets in a trust do not go through the probate process, unlike those passed by will. Revocable trusts can also be used to protect assets for minor children or loved ones with special needs. Some people use a pour-over will with a trust. It places all assets in the trust on a person’s death. For others, a will is sufficient without a trust.
An attorney may be able to help you determine whether you might need one or more trusts as part of your estate plan. Trusts are not just for wealthy individuals. For example, if you are worried about one of your beneficiaries being irresponsible with money, a trust can be set up that will only allow distributions at certain milestones or at the trustee’s discretion. Some people might need an irrevocable trust, which is less flexible but which also offers more protection.