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Components of an Estate Plan

It is a common misconception that having a will is enough because there is much more to having a good estate plan. An excellent estate plan will be designed to save on estate taxes, avoid probate, protect your assets should you move into a nursing home, and it will appoint someone you trust to manage your assets should you become disabled or incapacitated.

An estate plan is the foundation for any financial plan. In order to prepare for any type of situation you will need to establish several important documents, and together these documents will make up an estate plan. By getting these documents together, they can save you and your loved ones a significant amount of time and money and they will give you peace of mind. The components of a good estate plan consist of: 1) living wills, 2) advanced medical directives, 3) powers of attorney, and 4) wills and trusts.

Living Wills

While we may plan to live a long time, one never knows when an accident or an unexpected health crisis will happen to them, either of which might leave one permanently incapacitated. Your living will clearly explains what you want to have happen to your body should you be kept alive on life support. If you don't think ahead and make this decision for yourself, you will leave your loved ones with making this excruciating decision for you.

The living will works with other advanced medical directives, such as medical powers of attorney, which authorizes the named party to make medical decisions for you providing you aren't capable of doing so. While married couples may need these documents less, it's still better to be on the safe side and get these documents out of the way. For a single person, having a power of attorney for your health care is absolutely necessary.

Powers of Attorney

It is a wise idea to arrange a power of attorney, this way if something happens to you and you become incapacitated, someone else can act on your behalf and pay your mortgage and your other bills. While doctors turn to spouses and family regarding medical decisions, financial institutions generally require durable powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney will allow someone you trust to make financial decisions for you and it will allow them to control your assets outside of any trusts that you created.

In most states there are two types of power of attorney, one is the durable power of attorney which becomes effective the moment you sign it. The second is called a springing power of attorney; it's called this because it springs into effect when the individual becomes incapacitated. Since the springing requires you to become incapacitated before the other person takes control, most people choose the springing power of attorney because they aren't ready to hand over control of their bank accounts and their finances.


At minimum, everyone should have a will in place. The last will and testament appoints a personal representative or an executor to administer your estate. The will specifically controls your personal belongings such as your furniture, photographs, vehicles, boats and jewelry, and it outlines who will receive these items. Wills are essential for couples who have children under the age of eighteen since wills appoint a recommendation for guardianship of your children. A lot of people have misconceptions about how guardianship is handled in the absence of a will and they don't realize that if family members fight over who gets the children, the kids can go into foster care until the court makes a decision about who gets them.

Wills do not control retirement plans or assets, annuities or life insurance policies; therefore, you will have to fill out separate forms designating your beneficiaries. Still, these assets should be components of your estate plan.


Unless someone plans ahead and moves ownership of their property to a living trust, even people with seemingly small estates can be subject to probate and its associated costs. If you think you don't have enough money to worry about estate taxes, think again. Once you factor in your home, retirement plans and life insurance and add it all up, you get a substantial sum. Setting up a trust can not only help avoid the drawn out probate process and its costs, it allows for more control and protection over your heirs' inheritance. When you establish a revocable living trust which terminates when you die, the property in that trust will automatically pass to your beneficiaries, thus saving them time and money.

Pembroke Pines Estate Planning Attorney

Drafting a sound and effective estate plan is absolutely essential for everyone. At my firm, the Law Office of Steven Friedman, I can help you gather all the necessary components of a powerful and effective estate plan. With over 30 years' experience in estate planning, probate and probate litigation, I will be able to help you create a simple and effective wealth protection and distribution plan that is tailored to your unique situation. To obtain more information about the benefit of the services I offer, and how estate planning can give you the peace of mind you need to know that your assets and loved ones will be cared for according to your wishes, contact my firm to schedule a free consultation. I am here to answer all of your questions and set you on the right track to establishing a powerful estate plan.

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Law Office of Steven Friedman - Pembroke Pines Estate Planning Attorney
Located at 1806 North Flamingo Road, Suite 348, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028.
Phone: (954) 228-6126.
Local: (954) 385-7282.
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