The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a viral Internet sensation, raising over  $15 million so far for the ALS Association to research Lou Gehrig’s disease. Not only has this phenomenon multiply donations to find a cure, but it has also spread ALS awareness.

Awareness of this terrible disease can make you think about the sudden changes life can bring regardless of whether you know someone who has been affected by ALS.   Regardless of age or health, it is never too early to start planning ahead because you never know what the future will bring to you or your loved ones.

A proper estate plan will answer three key questions: what are your assets? Where are they going? How will they get there? These questions are simple but the answer can be quite complicated. The planning process takes time and varies depending on the particular circumstances of each individual. An estate plan is a living entity; as factors in your life change, your plan should be altered accordingly. With the assistance of the right attorney you can choose from a variety of estate-planning techniques in Florida to create an estate plan that fits your needs and wishes such as:

  • Living Trust & Assignment of Property – a living trust allows you to distribute your assets while ultimately avoiding probate (the legal process of determining whether a will is valid). Re-examine your income stream and how you will want your assets distributed after your death. This is a good time to look at your entire estate and determine if you will need additional tax planning.
  • Last Will & Testament – this is your traditional will that is used upon death to distribute property to beneficiaries, specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children. You may want to change who you have designated as a guardian, or burial requests.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – this allows you to designate and authorize someone to legally act on your behalf, in the event that you become incapacitated. As time goes on, you may want to change who will have the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. Furthermore, you want to ensure that your power of attorney document provides “super powers” to allow the agent to make decisions regarding retirement accounts, public benefits, gift exemptions, disclaiming property, and similar provisions that have financial consequences to your estate.
  • Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – this outlines important healthcare decisions in advance, and appoints a healthcare surrogate to make healthcare decisions for you when you become unable to do so yourself. You may decide that you will not want any life prolonging procedures in the event that you have one of the following conditions: (i) terminal condition (ii) end-state condition; or (iii) persistent vegetative state. In this case, you want to ensure that you have such wishes outlined in your living will.

Planning for the future and using the technique that’s right for you will protect your family from hassles when the time comes. Get ahead of the other 50% of Florida resident and get an estate plan now. It’s never too early to plan ahead.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM