Probate Attorneys in Fort Myers, Florida
Estate planning and elder law attorneys specialize in preparing trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney, pre-need guardian designations, health care surrogates, living wills and HIPAA documents. They also often handle the administration of probate and trust estates after a person dies. A probate estate is comprised of real estate and other property that a person possesses in their name alone at the time of their death. A trust administration deals with assets titled in a trust after the death of the person that created the trust. The attorneys at Prather & Swank, P.A. have years of experience with both probate and trust administration. This includes administrations where Medicaid is a creditor. Since everyone will inevitably pass away, choosing to work with an estate planning attorney from Prather & Swank, P.A. is a wise decision.
General Estate Planning Documents
A will is the most common way for a person to document exactly how they want their estate to pass after death and address who they want to be in charge. Wills vary in length depending on the estate size and preferences of the testator. Wills must be validly executed by an adult with capacity and must be in writing.
A living will is a document that allows a person state their specific wishes regarding end-of-life medical care in case they are unable to communicate them in the future. A living will provides invaluable guidance to family members and healthcare professionals when a person is no longer able to speak on their own behalf.
A trust, once created, allows a person to title assets in the trust, rather than in their name individually. The trustee is the person tasked with managing trust assets and is often the person who creates the trust. A trust is like a durable power of attorney in that it allows the trustee to manage trust assets during the grantor’s life. It also has will-like features because it directs the disposition of assets after the grantor’s death. If funded properly, a trust can avoid probate. A trust can be revocable, which means it can be amended or revoked, but a trust can also be irrevocable. Typically, a trust is executed as a separate legal document and is funded while the grantor is alive, but it can also be created in a will. This type of trust is called a testamentary trust.
Durable Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that gives someone else authority to manage your financial affairs. You must be competent to sign a durable power of attorney, but it will continue to be effective even if you become incapacitated in the future. A durable power of attorney is effective immediately upon signing in Florida so that the authority of the person you appoint cannot be conditioned in your ill health. If you are unsure about who to appoint, discuss this with your attorney.
Health Care Surrogate
A health care surrogate is similar to a durable power of attorney, but is put into place so that someone else can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Do Not Resuscitate Order
A do not resuscitate (DNR) order is a physician’s order signed by you (or your health care surrogate or proxy) and your doctor. It states you do not want to be resuscitated if you have a respiratory or cardiac arrest. A DNR is typically only signed for a person who is extremely ill or in a persistent vegetative state. Comfort care measures, such as oxygen administration, hemorrhage control and pain management, will still be used. Florida’s DNR is a form developed by the Florida Department of Health and must be printed on yellow paper before being signed. A copy of the form can be obtained by downloading the form from this site. Remember that it must be printed on yellow paper.
Call Prather & Swank, P.A.
If you live in Fort Myers and feel unsure about your estate planning options, call Prather & Swank, P.A. today. We’ll help you get all your documents in order so you can have peace of mind about your future and the future of your loved ones.