What You Need in Your Estate Plan in 2021

If there’s one thing we learned in 2021, it’s that catastrophe can strike at any time. In March, the pandemic caused worldwide devastation and it may take months (if not years) for everything to return to normal. It’s a reality that has motivated many Floridians to start thinking about estate planning.

If you don’t have an estate plan yet, it’s never too late to start. In this blog, we’ll identify tools that can protect your loved ones financially and express your wishes when you cannot do so yourself.

Last Will and Testament

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how small your estate may currently be- everyone can benefit from a last will and testament. Even if your only asset is a personal checking account, you’ll want to specify who receives the contents if you should unexpectedly pass. As your estate grows, you can update this document to reflect the changes.

A will is especially critical if you have minor children. If you and their other parent pass while they are still minors, they could end up being raised by someone who wouldn’t have been your first choice. By naming a guardian in your will, you ensure that the right party will guide and love them.

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal instrument that you create during your lifetime. You transfer assets into it and indicate how you want them to be managed after your death. By setting up a trust, you bypass the expensive and time-consuming probate process and pass more of your estate on to your heirs.

There are two main types of living trust in Florida:

  • Revocable trust: With this arrangement, you serve as your own trustee unless you appoint someone else. You can amend, modify, and even end the trust. After you pass, it becomes irrevocable and its assets are distributed among your beneficiaries in accordance with its terms.
  • Irrevocable trust: Unlike a revocable trust, you don’t control the assets of an irrevocable trust. Once you transfer them, you lose all rights of ownership, but federal estate taxes will be reduced and you may become eligible for means-based government assistance programs. Your assets are also protected from seizure if creditors obtain a judgment against you.


Pour-Over Will

You can use a pour-over will to back up your living trust. If you pass away before you can retitle some assets into the name of the trust, the will ‘pours over’ all of the property that is still in your name by making your trust the beneficiary of your probate estate.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney lets you authorize a person or a financial institution to handle your personal affairs and assets if you are absent or become incapacitated. The powers granted to your agent can be as specific or broad as you need. In estate planning, the most common type is a durable power of attorney, which remains in effect if you become incapacitated.

Advance Healthcare Directive

A set of advance healthcare directives let you specify your healthcare wishes in the event you cannot make your own decisions due to incapacity. They include the following: 

  • Living will: In Florida, you may make a written or oral statement to indicate what medical care you do and do not want to receive if you are ever unable to make your own decisions. Living wills are often used to state whether or not you want to remain on life support or receive any other treatment intended to delay death.
  • Designation of healthcare surrogate: You appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. You can change your designation at any time.

Call a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

Although no one can predict the future, a solid estate plan lets you express your wishes in advance and provide for loved ones after you’re gone. Let 2021 be the year you put one together. If you’re ready to get started, contact the estate planning attorneys at ElDeiry & ElDeiry, P.A. today!

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