COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Why is it important to be prepared?
There has been no greater sign for residents of Florida to have advanced healthcare directives than the current vicious pandemic. When the unexpected arises, it is essential that you have these legal documents in place in the event that you become placed on a breathing machine and/or other life saving devices that render you unable to make healthcare choices on your own. These healthcare proxies and medical power of attorney forms can assist your loved ones in making very important medical decisions on your behalf.
In this article, we discuss the types of Florida estate planning documents that are necessary in times of uncertainty. We will also discuss the formalities of drafting a Last Will and Testament; the documents included in Florida Advanced Health care Directives; and what we can learn about having these estate planning documents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
What is a Florida Last Will and Testament?
A Florida Last Will and Testament is the most recognized document in everyone’s estate plan. A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents a person can create during his or her lifetime. If a person dies without a Will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.
A Last Will and Testament effectively determines who gets what upon your death. In addition to a Last Will (which must confirm to the Florida Will Requirements), you will also need to draft ancillary documents.
In this ever evolving era of uncertainty, it is important to take a proactive approach to properly preserving your assets for your loved ones. Another tool you could use to ensure financial security in unpredictable times is through the drafting of a Florida Financial Durable Power of Attorney. This legal instrument gives the creator the feeling of security, knowing that a trusted individual will be making sound financial decisions on their behalf in the event they are incapacitated.
Florida Living Wills, Health Care Proxy, and Florida Advanced Healthcare Directives — what are the differences?
Florida Living Wills are a type of Florida Advanced Healthcare Directive and geared towards the advanced medical planning side of an estate plan. They are typically written statements directing what type of medical care you desire in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. It is called a Living Will because it is a set of directives that is referenced while you are still living and is a type of advanced care planning document.
A Healthcare Surrogate Designation (also referred to as a Healthcare Proxy in other states) is a legal document naming an individual as your representative to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapcaitated. You can also include instructions or stipulations on which treatments you wish to have and not have. Sometimes people refer to this document as an advanced medical directive.
These documents can be vital in the event you are hospitalized and unable to make sound medical decisions due to severe illness, such as the current pandemic COVID-19. Accordingly, if you found yourself in this situation you would only want someone who you trust to make these decisions on your behalf.
Why Hire a Trusted and Respected Miami Estate Planning Attorney?
Many individuals attempt to make a will online or using a generic will generator, but these online will drafting tools do not consider your unique circumstances and tax considerations and often do not deliver real and practical results. While you can find Florida will forms online (such as a Florida Living Will Form and Health Care Surrogate Designation form), it is important to consult with an experienced licensed miami estate planning attorney to assist you given the technical nature of drafting these documents.
In addition to the financial and medical significance many estate planning documents can impact your tax considerations. You should thus consider weighing these considerations with a trusted tax attorney that has the qualifications and the know-how when it comes to interpreting the estate and gift tax and international tax rules.
Due to the mandatory social distancing rules put into place, you may feel like you’re behind the curve on your estate plan and unable to visit an attorney’s office for the near future. Luckily, Florida has enacted the Electronic Wills Act which will become effective on July 1st of 2020 and you can draft and execute a will virtually (through video conference) with your attorney.
Florida Virtual Will Drafting with a Miami Estate Planning Attorney: Florida Electronic Wills Act
Increasingly, individuals are drafting wills and trusts online and looking for online will drafting forms and documents. As such, the Florida Legislature recently passed a new and largely impactful law allowing electronic signing, witnessing and notarization to the current signatory requirements.
This new law takes effect on July 1, 2020. The passing of this legislation is a very big change to Florida’s requirements for Will drafting. Prior to the passing of the Electronic Wills Act, Florida had strict requirements to draft a Last Will and Testament.
The formality requirements are set out in Fla. Stat. § 732.502. Per Florida Statute, the will must be in writing, and signed by the testator with capacity or by a person at the testator’s direction in the presence of two witnesses. The two witnesses must sign the will in the presence of each other.
Our firm stays current with up to date legislation and ready to execute virtual will drafting in July of 2020, so you’re able to create a will online, during the shelter-in-place orders. We will continue to work with new and existing clients on drafting Florida Last Will and Testaments either in person or virtually.
If you or a loved one needs to speak with a Florida Estate Planning attorney in Coral Gables/Miami, please contact us.
This post is not legal advice and is written for marketing purposes only. The information should not be relied upon, You should seek legal advice when performing an estate plan or have a tax issue.