For a lot of baby boomers in Florida who have never really thought about it before, estate planning brings a host of questions. Even though the basic process of estate planning is relatively simple, those who have little experience dealing with it can feel left out in the cold as soon as they start encountering unfamiliar terms and concepts. To provide a place to begin, it might be a good idea to review some of the most commonly asked estate planning questions.
Question 1. What is estate planning?
At its most basic, estate planning is taking the time to consider what will happen to your interests after you are gone. Whether you leave behind a lot of money and property or have young children you want to ensure are protected, estate planning allows you to make specific types of choices in preparation of your death or incapacitation. The property and concerns you leave behind you are generally referred to as your estate. And estate planning is the process through which you plan ahead for when you are no longer there to manage your interests.
Question 2. I’m not old, so do I have to have an estate plan?
Yes. Estate planning is not something that only seniors or the elderly need to worry about. Every capable adult has choices that they can only address by creating an estate plan. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to transfer as an inheritance or don’t believe you will ever be so sick that you won’t be able to communicate, you need an estate plan in place in case the worst happens.
Question 3. What about medical choices? Can I just let my spouse/children/someone else make choices for me?
If something goes wrong and you are rendered incapacitated, someone will have to make choices for you. Unfortunately, you have no way to guarantee who that will be unless you create an estate plan. What’s worse, if you don’t leave behind a plan and your family and loved ones cannot agree on the kinds of choices you would have wanted, they could end up in court fighting over who gets to decide.
Question 4. I’ve seen a lot of estate planning material on the Internet. Can I just make my own plan?
There is no law that requires you to hire an estate planning attorney to help you create your plan. However, knowing what options are available to you and how you need to proceed given your individual circumstances is only something an experienced lawyer can do. Choosing to create an estate plan on your own can lead to significant consequences and can actually do more harm than good.