For many, discussing one’s ultimate demise is a taboo subject. However, Jonathan R. Rubin discusses succession planning with clients in a simple and approachable manner so they can disclose their true intentions on how they want to leave their assets to family members, friends, or charitable organizations. Without a will or trust, the State of Florida through its intestacy statute decides who gets what assets and when. With a will, a person can control the manner of distribution of his or her assets that were accumulated over a lifetime. A trust can avoid probate, because the settlor can transfer his or her assets to a trustee for life and name a beneficiary or beneficiaries who will take title to those assets after the settlor’s death.
Moreover, as a person ages and may need assistance with his or her finances, a durable power of attorney is a proper tool to permit a trusted person to act as the principal’s agent. Jonathan R. Rubin discusses the benefits and risks of creating a durable power of attorney, so the client is comfortable doing so before executing the document.
A living will ensure that a designate can end life-prolonging procedures when the patient’s attending physician determines that there can be no recovery from such condition and that death is imminent. The life-prolonging procedures can be withheld or withdrawn when the application of such procedures would serve only to prolong artificially the process of dying. The person is permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain.
A health care surrogate is applicable as an estate planning tool when the patient is temporarily incapacitated, and the surrogate will make medical decisions in consultation with the attending physician. Naturally, the patient’s authority to make medical decisions is restored upon having capacity.