Estate planning is not only for the elderly or the wealthy; it is for anyone who wishes to make his or her choices legally effective. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are proficient in the legalities of wills, trusts and probate.
Can you answer the following questions with absolute certainty?
- Who will make your health care decisions if you are unable to make them?
- Who will sign legal documents for you if you are ill, incompetent, or unable?
- Will your doctors follow your wishes regarding end of life care?
- Who will be granted custody of your minor children?
- Who will receive your assets when you die?
Estate Planning is one way to remove any uncertainty to your answers. Through a series of documents, you will ensure that your wishes are memorialized in a legally sufficient and binding way.
- Last Will and Testament – memorializes your decision regarding how your assets will be distributed at your death
- Durable Power of Attorney – authorizes a designated person to execute legal documents on your behalf if you are unable
- Living Will – memorializes your decisions regarding end of life medical care
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate – authorizes a designated person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable
- Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian – memorializes your choices for guardianship of you, your assets and your children
- Medical Records Privacy Waiver – authorizes medical personnel to release information regarding your health to a designated person
Some individuals require additional documents to address their particular concerns or needs. For them, one of several various types of trusts may be advantageous. Other individuals have needs to address tax concerns, probate avoidance, or more. Our estate planning attorneys are able to assist you by analyzing your situation, addressing your concerns, and creating the best documents for you.
If you require a probate attorney, our probate services include Formal Administration and Summary Administration, and even probate litigation. You don’t have to feel alone in this hard time. Call our offices today to schedule your probate or estate planning consultation.
Our Estate planning attorneys work aggressively to ensure your living will, trust, or probate matter is handled with the care you should expect from a firm that has been around for over 40 years. With 13 locations throughout Florida, our attorneys are happy to meet you in the location that is most convenient to you. With our Main office in Orlando, we have 12 other offices including Clermont, Cocoa, Daytona, Gainesville, Kissimmee, Leesburg, Melbourne, Ocala, Orange City, St. Cloud, Titusville, and The Villages.
What would seem to be a simple process at a critical time is complicated when life insurance is provided through an employer. ERISA governs the procedures and typically the courts give the claim administrator deference if there is a denial of a claim for proceeds from the life insurance policy.
Those making claims are required to “exhaust administrative remedies” by completing a review or appeal of any claim denial prior to filing suit to obtain benefits. It is critical to present all evidence to support a death benefits claim during the appeal process. Court rulings have prohibited consideration of evidence in support of a claim that was not presented to the review entity designated by the plan.
Issues that have been resolved through court cases regarding life insurance include:
- Denials based on pre-existing conditions at the time of basic coverage enrollment-typically supplemental coverage during open enrollment has less stringent criteria for coverage or eliminates pre-existing conditions
- Interpretation of exclusions or limitations based on whether death resulted from accident or illness, or intentional conduct
- Changes in coverage due to the employer transferring life benefits to a new insurance company
- Determining whether one was disabled and entitled to a waiver of premiums as a result of the disability
- Simple negligence where an employer failed to turn in supplemental coverage election forms or failed to pay premiums
Power of Attorney
As a part of responsible estate planning, there may be a time when it is useful for you to designate someone to act on your behalf. A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person (the “principal”) authorizes another (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to do so. Power of Attorney may be one element described in a person’s Living Will.
The power of attorney may be of limited or unlimited duration and scope.
A limited power of attorney permits the named agent to act on behalf of the signer for a specific purpose only and, generally, only during a specific span of time. The named agent cannot sign documents or perform acts other than the named one(s) nor can the agent perform these acts at any time after the expiration of any specified period.
An unlimited power of attorney does not contain any restrictions as to the scope or to duration. Excluding restrictions is beneficial in an estate planning context where the principal cannot anticipate all the situations in which he/she may need the agent to act in the future. If the unlimited power of attorney includes appropriate language regarding the subsequent incapacity of the principal, the power of attorney is said to be “durable” and the authorization is still effective even though the principal subsequently loses physical or mental capacity.
The Estate Planning and Trust attorneys at Bogin, Munns & Munns will be glad to assist you with the evaluation of whether or not a power of attorney is appropriate in your situation, as well as with the preparation, or subsequent revocation, of a power of attorney.