So you’ve moved to Florida. You are going to spend your golden years in the sunshine, playing golf,
having the grandchildren visit, and enjoying your retirement. You do have a question as to what is going to happen to you
in later years, and what is going to happen to the property you own.
There are 5 basic documents you should consider.
First, a will. A Will leaves your property to whoever you want when you die. If you don’t have a Will,
Florida law will decide who gets your property; and it might not go to who you want if you die without a Will. A Will can
also simplify the process of probate after your death, appointing a personal representative, which is what Florida calls an
executor, and make sure that the executor does not have to post a bond. A Will can also give the executor more powers than
they would have to deal with the property under Florida law.
The second document is a Living Will. A Living Will says what happens if you are dying. Usually, a Living
Will sets out your wishes about such things as artificially provided food and water, intensive care, artificial respiration,
and whether you want medication to help with pain, even if that medicine hastens your death. A Living Will also says whether
or not you want to be resuscitated- brought back- if your heart should stop.
The third document is a Health Care Surrogacy, sometimes called a Health Care Proxy or Health Care Power
of Attorney. A Health Care Surrogacy lets someone else make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those medical
decisions yourself. This is broader than a Living Will, because you might be unable to make medical decisions, but not necessarily
be dying. Most people name their spouse as Health Care Surrogate and then name one of their children as an alternate.
The fourth document is a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney allows someone else to run
your business affairs if you are unable to. Many people think that they don’t need a Power of Attorney because their
spouse is named as co-owner of bank accounts and is on the deed to the house. But a spouse cannot sign contracts, deeds, tax
returns and other documents for you just because they are named as a co-owner on an account. Most people name their spouse
on the power of attorney, and name one of their children as an alternate.
The fifth document is a Pre-Need Guardianship Designation. If you become unable to care for yourself, and
a court case is brought to protect you, you can name the person who would be responsible for looking after you. If you do
not choose a guardian ahead of time, the court would appoint someone.