typhoonA rescue operation of 90 U.S. Marines and sailors have joined the relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of the massive typhoon that has left behind a death toll that is projected to reach approximately 10,000.

It is events such as these where we are reminded of the unexpected nature of devastation, recognizing that you can never be too prepared for tomorrow. If you wish to aid the victims of the disaster stricken country, there are a variety of charities taking donations that will go directly to coordinating disaster relief. The Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations online, keeping donors updated on relief efforts through Facebook and Twitter. Save the Children has said that it will reserve 10% of donations received to help prepare for future emergencies. In this spirit of crisis mitigation, consider whether you are prepared for the unexpected. Do you have a health care surrogate in the event that you become incapacitated? Do you have a guardian for your children? Do you have a valid will that will distribute your assets specifically according to your wishes, while avoiding unnecessary taxes or the costs associated with probate? If any of these questions are answered with a “no,” you may want to consider created an estate plan with the following documents:

typhoon21. Living Trust – a living trust has become increasingly desirable due to its ability to avoid probate (the legal process of determining whether a will is valid). If you are married, you may want to designate yourself and your spouse as co-trustees, so that you have full control over the property while you are still alive. Side Note: such control does have tax consequences, so you will want to discuss this with your estate planning attorney.

2. Assignment of Property – this is exactly that, assigning your property to your trust. In other words, placing your property into the trust. This includes both real & personal property. A trust does not do anything for you if there is no property in it.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?SM

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.