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Estate planning documents that should not be neglected

It is an unfortunate reality that many Florida residents put off planning their estate or do so in a haphazard fashion. Neglecting this very important process can lead to unwanted consequences for both the estate planner and family members. In fact, a non-existent or poorly planned estate could result in higher estate taxes, family disputes over asset distribution and difficulty in making health and financial decisions should the estate planner become incapacitated.

The good news is these issues can be completely avoided with proper estate planning. Though many Florida residents have a will that describes how assets should be distributed upon death, this is not the only important document they should consider having drafted. These individuals should also consider having a living will created, which gives a set of instructions with regards to how the planner would like to be treated if he or she is diagnosed with a terminal condition or is confined to a vegetative state.

Estate planners should also consider creating a medical power of attorney. This important document can designate an individual to make healthcare decisions for the planner in the event of incapacitation. By choosing a trustworthy individual who will abide by the expressed wishes, an individual can put their mind at ease that such a scenario, if it should arise, will play out exactly according to their wishes.

Another important document for Florida residents to consider is the financial power of attorney. Similar to the medical power of attorney, this document designates an individual to handle the planner's financial affairs if they are unable to do so. This will enable competent, beneficial decisions to be made with regards to the planner's assets, even if the planner cannot make those decisions.

Source: Fox Business, "The Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Make," Kelly Trageser, April 7, 2014

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