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What estate planning steps should I take to protect my family?

None of us want to consider the eventuality of our own deaths, but avoiding the topic of estate planning can leave your family in a precarious position.  With a little forethought, you can plan for the end of your life and ensure your family will be in the best position possible to deal with your death. Our Tampa estate planning lawyers discuss the three estate planning documents everyone should have before their deaths below.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that provides another person with the power to act in your place.  There are several different options for powers of attorney.  A durable power of attorney is among the most popular.  With this document, you can give legal authority to a loved one to act on your behalf if you become medically or mentally incapacitated.  A healthcare proxy specifically authorizes your loved one to make medical decisions when you cannot.  Without a power of attorney in place, your loved ones may be unable to make medical or financial decisions when you need them to.  


A will is one of the most basic and essential estate planning tools.  With a will, you can dictate who will receive your hard-earned assets in the event of your death.  You can also name a proposed guardian for your minor child.  Without a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with Florida law.  Your assets could go to siblings, parents, or other relatives who you would not have chosen to receive your possessions.  Take control of your assets before your death by drafting a comprehensive will.


Many Floridians should consider creating a trust in addition to their will.  A trust allows you to transfer assets outside of the probate system.  With a trust, your named beneficiary will become the owner of the property within the trust shortly after your death.  A trust also provides you with more control over distribution of your assets.  For example, you could require that your heirs complete college before receiving trust funds.  Contact an estate planning attorney right away for assistance with developing your estate plan to preserve your assets for future generations.