Basic estate planning documents are necessary for every individual. Estate planning is the process of planning for an individual’s incapacity and/or death by selecting specific agents to make decisions for them when they cannot do so for themselves as well as detailing how one’s assets will pass upon their death. Failure to plan for your estate can lead to the necessity of court intervention and headaches for your family members who are already in duress or grieving.

The basic estate plan consists of the following: health care directive/surrogate document (for healthcare related decisions), living will (directions on life prolonging measures desired), durable power of attorney (for financial decisions) and a last will (appointment of personal representative and asset distribution directions). In certain cases a revocable living trust may be used in conjunction with a last will and testament. Not every individual needs both a last will and testament and a revocable living trust.

Individuals with significant assets who desire to have those assets bypass probate (or court supervision) should always consider utilizing the benefits of a revocable living trust. Revocable living trusts are also great for blended families where the marital assets are passing to children of different marriages. The revocable living trust allows the trustee to place certain restrictions on asset distributions to keep them safe from beneficiary disputes.

Individuals with significant assets may also take advantage of one or more irrevocable trusts that may allow them to lower their taxable estate, also known as advanced estate planning. In Florida, advanced estate planning is advisable for those individuals who have assets totaling near five million dollars, as the current federal gift tax exemption is $5.43 million per individual (doubled for married couples).

Contact the Attorneys of The Noble Law Firm, P.A. to discuss your estate planning needs and whether you should utilize advanced estate planning to distribute your assets to the next generation.

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