An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Who Listens
If you do not have an estate plan in place — or if you have not reviewed your plan in several years — how your legacy will be distributed should the unexpected occur may not match your interests. In the absence of a plan, Florida laws and the Internal Revenue Service take over to dictate who will get your assets. The cold-hard laws do not take into account your desires, individual family dynamics or even the well-being of your loved ones in directing how your property will be distributed.
At the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A., in Melbourne, Florida, we have guided families in all economic brackets and age groups through the loving process of creating a plan to protect assets for more than a decade. Because each family is unique, it is critical for you to work with a knowledgeable lawyer to craft the plan best suited to your needs. We meticulously work with each client to create the legal documents to comprehensively meet their individual goals. Learn more about Estate Planning at one of our Estate Planning Workshops.
The Five Most Important Estate Planning Documents
1. Revocable Trust
A Revocable Trust is a written document that is created during your lifetime to help manage and protect your assets should you become incapacitated, challenged by the symptoms of aging, or pass away. A Revocable Trust indicates how you want your property to be transferred at your death, and it can be amended or revoked during your lifetime.
2. Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament is a written document that indicates how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. A Will is designed to leave your property outright to your beneficiaries.
3. Living Will & Designation of Health Care Surrogate
A Living Will is a legal document that makes known your wishes regarding life prolonging medical procedures. A Living Will informs your health care providers and family of your desires for medical treatment in the event you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself. A Designation of Health Care Surrogate is the document that gives another person the right to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself. It can include special instructions about treatments that you do or do not want.
4. Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian
A Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian is used to designate, in advance, the person you want to manage your affairs and act as your guardian should you become mentally or physically disabled or incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs, property or health. By signing this document, you decide who should handle your affairs rather than having the court step in and decide who should do so for you.
5. Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives the person you choose, i.e., your agent, the power to act in your place regarding your financial affairs. This document is most often used if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your financial matters on your own.
Read more about these five important documents on our blog.
Tailoring Your Estate Plan
to Your Needs
Wills and Trusts
A last will and testament is an important tool to make sure your final wishes are understood and enforceable. However, there may be benefits to creating a strategy to protect assets using an irrevocable trust, or to avoid probate using revocable trusts or a combination of estate planning tools. A special needs trust may be necessary for families that want to protect a loved one with a disability.
Estate Planning in Blended Families
Second marriages can create complex family structures. We can explain how a basic estate plan may provide for a spouse, but risk disinheriting a biological child. We help clients in blended families craft strategic estate plans to fully protect their interests.
Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
The law generally does not provide unmarried couples with estate planning protection. For instance, domestic partners can face difficult issues in how their loved one will be cared for after a medical emergency. We guide domestic partners and unmarried couples through the unique challenges associated with estate planning in domestic relationships.
Powers of Attorney
Medical emergencies and accidents can occur at any stage of life. Every individual can provide his or her family with loving guidance concerning end-of-life matters through a living will. Health care directives, including appointing a health care surrogate to speak on your behalf should you become incapacitated can give you and your family peace of mind. Adults also need to have powers of attorney in place to allow a trusted representative to manage finances and pay bills should you be unable to do so for yourself.