Estate planning gives you a chance to preserve your family values. An estate planning attorney here in Florida can help you find answers to common questions about wills, advanced directives, and more.
At the Law Office of Sherri M. Stinson, P.A. in Palm Harbor, FL, our legal team is ready to help if you want to prepare for leaving a legacy. Please contact us at (727) 351-7057 to learn more today. Here, we answer some questions our clients frequently ask when seeking an “estate planning attorney near me.”
What’s The Best Time to Plan My Estate?
I always say “you’re never too young, you’re never too old, but you might be too late.” The best time to plan your estate was yesterday. The next best time is today. We don’t believe in being alarmist or acting like chicken little. However, life happens. We take steps to protect ourselves from the Florida hurricanes. But, you are much more likely to have something catastrophic like a car accident or health problem happen than you are to be in a hurricane. You can run from a hurricane. You can’t run from life. Taking care of estate planning allows you to rest comfortably, knowing that your decisions will be respected, no matter what happens.
Many professionals recommend that you handle estate planning as your family grows and matures. It is not necessarily an end-of-life decision just for the elderly, as many people believe.
When Should I Review and Modify My Existing Estate Plan?
You can easily update your estate plan based on any changes to your family or financial situation. You should review the plan every two or three years, even if you have not experienced any major life-changing events. However, you may want to update your plan specifically after:
Any other substantial changes in your life, including changes to your finances, should also lead to a review or modification of your estate plan. We realize that most people forget to do this. That is why our firm reaches out to our clients on a periodic basis not only to see how you are doing but also to ensure that we catch any potential problems early.
Do I Need a Will?
Generally, Florida estate planning attorneys recommend that you have a will. A will provides you and your loved ones with a sense of safety and surety, as it explicitly provides a roadmap of all of your legal wishes. Not only that, it protects your family from a court having to decide what you would have wanted and who should be in charge. Having a will ensures that YOUR voice is heard, your values are preserved and your estate is protected from unintended consequences.
What’s The Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?
Some people wonder if they need a will and a living will. The answer is yes. These legal documents perform very different tasks, so you should have both. A will provides legal instructions regarding your estate. Your family and members of your estate use these instructions as a legal guide after your death.
A living will, on the other hand, details your wishes regarding medical treatment. Doctors and family members rely upon a living will if you become incapacitated.
What’s the Difference Between a Living Will and a Health Care Surrogate Designation?
As we mentioned, a living will provides instructions regarding the kind of medical care you want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate. With a health care surrogate designation, you name someone else to make decisions for you.
In many cases, the designation of a health care surrogate designation resembles a durable power of attorney. However, a durable power of attorney grants another person the right to make decisions about your finances. A health care surrogate makes medical decisions.
Do I Need an Advance Directive?
Legally, we classify a living will as an advanced directive that provides guidance regarding your wishes. If you have an advanced directive, you can take steps to ensure that your values will be respected even while you cannot communicate. Therefore, you might need this document in many cases.
Without an advance directive, doctors or family members will need to make decisions for you in a life-or-death situation. For example, if you do not want doctors to take extreme measures to save your life, you should prepare an advance directive. Without a directive that details your wishes, doctors will take every step possible to keep you alive.
Will Florida Law Honor My Advance Directive from Another State?
Legally, the state of Florida must honor advance directives filled out in other states. However, the directives must follow the laws in those states before Florida will legally recognize them.
An estate planning attorney near you in Florida can help you go over an advance directive from another state to make sure it still reflects your choices. Additionally, a lawyer can step in to help you draw up an advance directive for our state right now.
Why Can’t I Just Use the Internet to Write a Will or Designate a Healthcare Surrogate or Power of Attorney?
Some individuals are interested in handling their own estate planning needs. While this is an option, the legal guidelines surrounding estate planning are complex in Florida.
Wills, power of attorneys, and health care surrogacies are only legally valid if you complete them in accordance with the law. Writing a will on your own could result in a loophole that allows other people to ignore your wishes. You take a chance if you “DIY” and if you “DIY” incorrectly, it is often too late to do anything about it. Think about it–do you REALLY want to be wondering if you did the right thing when you are in a medical crisis? We don’t advise gambling with decisions that are literally life and death!
Let us help you continue to be your family’s rock in the storm. We’re prepared to walk you through each step of the estate planning process.
Why Should I Hire the Law Office of Sherri M. Stinson, P.A.?
Make the right choice when hiring an estate planning attorney in Palm Harbor, FL. Attorney Sherri M. Stinson offers the assistance and assurance you want and need. Our team will provide the legal services you need with professional excellence and thoughtful guidance.
Contacting us for help is easy. Just call or text us at (727) 351-7057 to ask questions or make an appointment. You can also schedule an online consultation to learn more about your options.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.