Probate: When an individual passes away, you may need to probate their estate. Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. In general, the decedent’s assets are first used to pay the cost of the probate proceeding, then used to pay the decedent’s outstanding debts, and the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Will Preparation: Your will is a written legal document that specifies how you want your assets to be distributed after you are gone, and who you would like to handle the administration of your estate. It is the only way parents can designate the preferred guardians of their minor children. It can be used to set-up a trust to protect and manage large sums of money being left to minor children and young adults. It must be filed with the Court upon your death; the court then supervises the distribution of your assets. If you die without a will, the State of Florida determines how your assets get divided, and who your beneficiaries will be. A judge will decide who handles the administration of your estate. Make sure you have a Will in place, so that you are the one making these important decisions.
Living Will: A living will is a legal document which allows a person to let his or her family or designated individuals know of his or her wishes regarding the use of life prolonging medical treatments. It is also be referred to as a health care directive, a physician’s directive or an advance directive. A living will serves to inform your health care providers and your family about your desires for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.
Durable Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney is a legal document which shifts, or ‘delegates’ decision-making authority from one person to another. In a Power Of Attorney document, the maker of the Power of Attorney grants the right to act on the maker’s behalf to an ‘agent. What authority is granted depends on the specific language of the Power of Attorney. A person giving a Power of Attorney may make it very broad or may limit it to certain specific acts.
Healthcare Surrogate: A Health Surrogate is an individual to whom you invest the power or authority to provide informed consent for medical treatment, surgical and/or diagnostic procedures should you be so incapacitated as to consent yourself. You may so designate one or more individuals to have this decision making power. Your Health Surrogate will be empowered to make health care decisions and to provide, withhold, or withdraw consent on your behalf or apply for public benefits to defray the cost of health care and to authorize your admission to or transfer from a health care facility.
We, at the law office of Jennifer L. Sweeting, P.A., can assist you in deciding if you need to write or update a will or trust. You can take care of your Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and the designation of your Healthcare Surrogate at the same time. Give us a call at 850-681-1010 for a thirty-minute consultation.