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Estate Planning

Planning and preparation are important elements of ensuring a successful financial future for your family. Creating an estate plan, drafting a will, and setting up a revocable living trust in advance will ensure that you and your family are prepared to receive the care you deserve. Two other key documents to consider in estate planning are:

  • A durable power of attorney (DPOA) remains effective even if a person becomes incapacitated. In order to be effective, the DPOA must be signed by the principal and by two witnesses and be notarized. Keep in mind that as a DPOA you are an agent, which is a fiduciary of the principal. You are responsible for acting in good faith, preserving the principal’s estate plan, and may not delegate authority to a third party. Under Florida law, multiple agents are presumed to be capable of acting independently. An agent must also keep records of all receipts, disbursements, and transactions made on behalf of the principal.
  • A health care directive is a package of documents (combination living will, health care surrogate and HIPAA release) intended to cover an individual’s medical decisions and wishes for medical treatment should that person no longer be able to make those decisions for themselves, i.e., in the event of incapacity. These documents are also known by a number of other names, including a Florida medical directive, Florida advance directive, Florida advance medical directive, Do-Not-Resuscitate order or medical power of attorney.

Components Of The Health Care Directive

  • The Living Will – A Florida Living Will is an oral or written statement that expresses the kinds of treatment options that is wanted in the event that person is no longer able to decide for themselves. The living will often function as a “do not resuscitate” in dire medical circumstances.
  • Designation of Health Care Surrogate – Also known as a health care power of attorney, the purpose of this document is to designate the person(s) who is empowered to enforce the medical wishes as expressed in the living will.
  • HIPAA Release – Since federal law protects the privacy of individuals concerning their medical records, a HIPAA release document is required to release medical records to third parties, including family members. Under Florida law, a HIPAA authorization cannot be effective for more than 24 months, so the HIPAA release will need to be updated at that time.

The estate planning attorneys at Bernhardt Riley are here to help protect you, your family and your assets.