VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Understanding the basics of estate planning

Florida residents can use a tailored estate plan to direct how their assets should be distributed. Furthermore, a plan could ensure that a variety of wishes are honored after they pass. Individuals can specify their end-of-life decisions, funeral arrangements and who should step in as guardians for their children.

Individuals may also specify to whom the funds in a financial account should be passed. Beneficiaries can be designated on many types of financial accounts, including brokerage, IRA, savings and checking accounts. Designations, such as 'payable on death" or 'transfer on death" are used to allow the account to skip the probate process and give the beneficiaries access to the funds when they may need them.

Beneficiaries can also be named in a will. It is not unusual for married couples to assume that all assets will automatically be transferred to a surviving spouse; however, this is not the case in every situation.

A living will is another part of a well-devised estate plan. This document differs from a will in that it details an individual's preferences regarding the medical care they should receive if they are incapacitated in some way and are unable to make the decisions themselves. Living wills usually address the issue of life support and the situations in which individuals would want life-supporting measured continued.

An estate planning attorney may advise a client about which legal documents would be best for their specific assets. The lawyer could also explain the uses of a health proxy and the various types of wills and trusts.

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