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Many Florida residents find it difficult to contemplate end of life decisions, but addressing these issues can provide you with peace of mind while protecting your estate and safeguarding your legacy. Failing to have an effective estate plan in place could leave your assets vulnerable and increase your tax exposure, and it may also lead to conflict among your heirs.

While you may consider estate planning to be an area dealing mainly with end of life matters, it can also be extremely important if you were to become incapacitated due to an accident or illness. Health care is becoming increasingly regulated, and doctors may be prohibited by law to share important medical information with your family members if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. A properly executed living will and health care directive could provide you with the comfort of knowing that your wishes regarding treatment will be followed.

In addition to a last will and testament, which specifies how your assets will be distributed after you pass away, there are other estate planning documents that may be of value to you. Trusts may offer tax advantages and provide for your children, and an attorney could explain the merits of living, charitable, support and irrevocable trusts. An attorney could also help you to create a durable power of attorney to ensure that important decisions are made according to your wishes if you are unable to make them yourself.

The anxiety created by not having an estate plan in place can grow over time, but it can be eliminated by taking action. An attorney with experience in this area may be able to answer your questions and offer strategies that accomplish your goals while minimizing exposure to estate taxes. For more information about these matters, please visit our page dealing with estate planning.

Source: L. Bruce Swiren, P.A., “Estate Planning“, September 10, 2014