Careful Preparation Of Your Will

At Pilka & Associates, P.A., we have helped hundreds of clients and their families prepare their estate plans. An effective and complete estate plan includes a variety of documents, including a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, a designation of health care surrogate and a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release.

The Purposes Of A Last Will And Testament

For a last will and testament to be valid in Florida, it must meet the following requirements:

  • The will maker (called a testator) must be at least 18.
  • The will must be in writing.
  • The will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses.
  • The testator and both witnesses must watch as each person signs the will.
  • The testator must be of sound mind and must know that what he or she is signing is his or her will.

When preparing a legal will in Brandon or Lakeland, Florida, the help and advice of an estate planning lawyer can be invaluable. Missing one of the will requirements can invalidate a will and force the estate to be distributed as if no will was ever written. This means that the state of Florida determines who the beneficiaries are and what assets should be distributed to which beneficiaries. Only a properly prepared last will and testament will prevent the state from making those decisions for you.

What Is A Living Will?

A living will is a document that provides directions to family members regarding your medical care when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. A living will makes your wishes clear in regard to your medical care while you are incapacitated. Because a family member will be given significant decision-making powers, a living will typically is prepared with a health care surrogate designation as part of or attached to the document.

The wills lawyers of Pilka & Associates, P.A., understand that a Florida living will is not something you may be comfortable discussing. It requires a hard look at how you would want to be treated after a catastrophic illness. It also asks you to think about who you want in charge of your medical decisions. Preparing a living will in Brandon, Lakeland and surrounding areas in Florida requires a compassionate attorney to help you think about and plan for the worst-case scenario. The decisions made in a living will can have life-altering consequences.

Health Care Surrogate Designation

A health care surrogate designation allows a person to name an agent to make health care decisions on their behalf when they become incapable of doing so. The agent has the authority to select the person's doctors and other health care providers, determine the types of treatments and select the facilities that will provide such treatments. The agent, however, cannot act contrary to the person's wishes in a validly executed living will.

HIPAA Release

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, was created by Congress in 1996 to protect the privacy of a person's health information. The act prohibits health care providers from releasing a person's health care information to any parties not directly involved in the person's care unless he or she has given the health care providers a HIPAA release allowing third parties access to the person's medical records.

Creating Durable Powers Of Attorney

The power of attorney allows a person (the principal) to name another individual (typically called an attorney-in-fact or agent), usually a spouse, trusted family member or friend, to make financial and other decisions regarding the principal's property. The agent should be chosen carefully; it is recommended that the principal have a thorough conversation with the agent about what the responsibility entails. In addition, a successor agent or agents should be named in case the original agent is unavailable or unwilling to serve.

A power of attorney is "durable" when it provides that the agent may act on behalf of the principal even after the principal is incapacitated. The agent is authorized to manage and make decisions about the income and assets of the principal and is responsible for acting in the best interests of the principal. Unless the principal revokes the power of attorney, it remains in force until the death of the principal.

A Legal Will Adviser You Can Trust

Our Brandon and Lakeland wills law attorneys are dedicated to providing effective and efficient representation. Call Pilka & Associates, P.A., in our Brandon, Florida, law office at 863-236-9321 or our Lakeland Florida law offices at 813-502-1097 or contact us through this website.