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Estate Planning Documents

1) Living Trust

A legal document that looks a lot like a Will, in fact, it does what most people think a Will does- and much more. Because there is no probate with a Living Trust, all expensive court proceedings and delays are eliminated, your privacy is preserved, and emotional stress on your family is minimized. It can reduce/ eliminate estate taxes, is extremely hard to contest, and even provides very effective pre-nuptial protection.

2) "Pour-Over" Will

The Will used for a person who has a Revocable Living Trust to avoid probate. The "Pour-Over" Will probates any assets that were not titled in the name of the Trust before death. These assets, which are added to the Trust by the Pour-Over Will, do not escape probate. The Pour-Over Will also disposes of the tangible personal property (jewelry, antiques, personal effects) of each spouse. The Pour-Over Will is a safety net to gather any loose ends for the Revocable Living Trust.

3) Florida Living Will

This legal document tells your family and doctor to terminate life prolonging procedures when you are terminally ill. This document has only been in existence in Florida since October 1, 1984 and was changed in 2000 to require the inclusion of "End Stage Conditions and Persistent Vegetative States. An example of why you need is a living will is the case of Terri Schiavo.

4) Florida Durable Family Power of Attorney

This legal document gives a close relative (spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, niece or nephew) the power to handle your finances and investment decisions if you become ill. This document is also important to guard against incompetency if an individual does not have a Living Trust. This document is different than a normal power of attorney, which becomes invalid upon incompetency.

5) Durable Medical Power of Attorney

This legal document allows a family member to make health, medical and surgical decisions for you if you can become incompetent or disabled. It eliminates the need for guardianship.

6) Quit Claim Deed

A deed used to transfer real estate (your home) into the Living Trust to avoid probate.

7) Special Needs Trust

This trust allows a disabled beneficiary to receive funds or gifts and not lose his or her eligibility for government benefits. Special needs trusts are not meant to provide basic life necessities; rather they are used to pay for comforts and luxuries not provided for through government assistance.

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