J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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A living will is an important part of an overall estate plan

An important part of any effective estate plan that is sometimes overlooked is the need for a living will. There are many important aspects of an effective estate plan to consider when contemplating estate planning in general, including a properly executed will, a trust if needed and a living will or advance healthcare directive which are sometimes also referred to as healthcare surrogates.

A living will ensures that the medical and healthcare wishes of the party executing it will be carried out if they become incapacitated and are unable to express their wishes for themselves. Provided that the individual executing the advance healthcare directive is of sound mind, Florida law permits them to direct healthcare professions to either provide, withhold or withdraw procedures that may prolong life. Another party may also be designated as a healthcare surrogate to make medical decisions for the party executing it if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. A durable power of attorney is another important estate planning tool that allows the party executing it to designate another party to act on their behalf concerning financial, legal and medical concerns if they become incapacitated.

An effective estate plan combines estate planning documents and resources including, but may not be limited to, a will, a trust, a living will and a durable power of attorney into a comprehensive estate plan for the party executing it. A comprehensive and effective estate plan should include various estate planning tools that work well together based on the unique circumstances and wishes of the party engaged in estate planning.

It is important to understand how the various estate planning tools work together and impact one another. Estate planning can be complex which is why it is useful to understand the individual tools as well as the big picture associated with achieving an effective overall estate plan.

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