Shannon Miller, founder of The Miller Elder Law Firm, is a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney talks about what to do with your estate planning documents. A common question I get in my practice is “I have an estate plan in place, my affairs are in order, now what do I do with it?”
First of all, congratulations! 50% of Americans do not have an estate plan. You are on the right track for planning many events you will experience as an older adult. The better the planning, the easier the decision making process will be.
Many of you tell me you have left everything to your spouse, he/she is the designee on all assets and ask if that’s okay. It’s not! What if you die at the same time? It is important that you have contingent beneficiary names on IRAs, life insurance, bank accounts to avoid probate. Avoiding probate is everyone’s goal because it’s lengthy, expensive, and can create family discord.
Here’s what to do with your estate planning documents once completed:
- Keep in a safe place! Copies are as good as originals for powers of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, and living wills.
- Keep designation of health care surrogate and living will documents in your car’s glove box for easy access when you get to the hospital; you can also email it to yourself.
- I do not recommend you keep in a safety deposit box because if you become incapacitated or die, nobody can get to it without a court order.
- Use a fire proof safe or lock box and inform your trusted contact where it is and how to access it.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders
Many people do not plan for this intervention which can result in a death event that is painful both physically and emotionally. Consider Do Not Resuscitate Orders and talk with your physician as you must do this together and in advance.
I urge you to complete your estate planning documents sooner rather than later for a quality end of life for you and your family. Many people have been motivated to do this during COVID-19. We can help you with these documents so you do not have to worry about navigating through unfamiliar territory. We make it as simple and seamless as we can to reduce stress and get results for you and your family.
The Miller Elder Law Firm
Shannon Miller, founder of The Miller Elder Law Firm, is a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing in Gainesville, Florida. Ms. Miller is a member of the Florida Bar Elder Law Section’s Legislative Committee, a Past President of the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA), and is a frequent speaker on elder law issues. She is highly specialized in handling financial exploitation cases and recovering assets for its victims.
Other practice areas include guardianship, wills and trusts, probate, estate planning, special needs planning, medicare planning and asset freeze litigation. Ms. Miller also serves as an expert for exploitation legislation impacting the state of Florida by protecting vulnerable adults. If we can help you and your family with any elder law issue, please contact us at 352.379.1900. You may also complete the form below and we will contact you.