Florida residents be advised, not only is it important to consult with a Neptune Beach Estate Planning Attorney about having your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney and other legal documents prepared, but you must make your beneficiaries and heirs aware that they exist.
Keeping your important legal, real estate, motor vehicle, insurance and financial papers in an organized fashion and storing them where they can be found is crucial. Keeping your original Will secure and accessible is the first step. A Will allows you to decide which of your family members or friends will inherit your assets. If you have minor children, you designate a guardian for your kids, in case of your demise.
Wills are subject to the Probate process, which is a court supervised proceeding in which a personal representative is appointed, an inventory of your property is prepared, your debts and taxes are paid, and finally your assets are distributed to those beneficiaries named in your Will.
As a Neptune Beach Probate Attorney, I have seen first hand what happens after you die, if your relatives cannot find your original Will. It becomes a more complicated, more timely, and more expensive undertaking than had your heirs known where to look for the original will, which you have "hidden" in the back closet, under a pile of clothes, in a box, with hundreds and hundreds of receipts and sheets of papers . . .
A Revocable Living Trust is another Estate Planning tool that not only benefits you and your beneficiaries, but also avoids the probate process. As you can amend your Living Trust at any time during your lifetime, it becomes imperative that you not only keep the original trust agreement but the amendments to the original trust where your trustee and beneficiaries can find it. Failure to find your trust documents may set your estate up for litigation.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a most powerful document as it allows someone you have named, to act on your behalf in financial, banking and business matters if you ever become incapacitated due to illness or injury. If the person you have designated is unable to locate this document, he or she will be unable to conduct banking transactions or deal with business associates on your behalf.
Another important Estate Planning Document is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. This health care document allows you to name the person you want to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make health care treatment decisions for yourself. Again, remember, it is not only important to have these legal Estate Planning Documents prepared, but to share the existence and location of these documents to your beneficiaries, loved ones, and trusted friends.