Careful Preparation Of Your Will And Other Estate Planning Documents
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. Our attorneys are ready to help you implement all of them, allowing you to secure your future and protect your wishes.
What Constitutes A Legal Will?
For a last will and testament to be valid in Florida, it must meet a broad range of legal requirements. These include:
- The will maker (called a testator) must be at least 18
- The will must be in writing
- The testator and two witnesses must sign the will
- 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, the help and advice of an estate planning lawyer can be invaluable. Missing one of these requirements can invalidate a will and force a distribution of the estate as if you never wrote a will.
If the court determines there is no valid will, the state of Florida will determine who your beneficiaries are and what assets they will receive. 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 receive significant decision-making powers, a living will typically is prepared with a health care surrogate designation as part of or attached to the document.
Our lawyers 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. We focus on fostering a compassionate and understanding atmosphere so you can feel more comfortable making these important decisions.
Additional Estate Planning Documents
Beyond wills and living wills, our attorneys can help you implement a full complement of estate planning documents that you may need. These include:
- Health care surrogate designation: A health care surrogate designation lets you name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. This person has the authority to select your doctors and other health care providers, determine the types of treatments and select the facilities that will provide such treatments. However, they cannot act contrary to your wishes in a validly executed living will.
- HIPAA release: Congress created the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect the privacy of a person’s health information. This law prevents health care providers from disclosing your medical information to any parties that are not directly involved in the person’s care. The only exception is if the patient has a HIPAA release that allows third parties access to the person’s medical records.
- Durable power of attorney: The power of attorney allows you to name another individual to make decisions regarding the principal’s property. This document is durable when the person you name can act on your behalf, even after you become incapacitated.
An Estate Planning Attorney You Can Trust
Our attorneys provide effective and efficient representation. Call Pilka & Associates, P.A., in our Brandon law office at 813-502-1097 or our Lakeland law offices at 863-263-9321. Individuals throughout south-central Florida can also email us.