Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q:  When should I review my estate plan?

A: The New Year is the perfect time to review your estate planning documents, or to create them if you haven’t already. Estate planning means preparing for the management and disposition of assets, in the event of your incapacitation or death. Any major life event (think births, deaths and marriage) and even geographic relocation might necessitate a change to your existing documents.

Estate Planning lets you:

  • Choose who will inherit your possessions
  • Name guardians for children or caretakers for pets
  • Reduce taxes on what you leave behind
  • Minimize the chances of family strife and ugly legal battles
  • Designate a decision-maker about your finances and health if you are unable

But I don’t have “an estate”

Everyone has an estate. It’s simply a collection of everything you own. Your money, property and personal belongings will all need to go somewhere after you pass away. An elder care attorney can help you decide what type of estate planning documents are required for your specific family circumstances.

 Documents for Life and Death

  • A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document naming a trusted person or organization you appoint to make decisions on your behalf. It covers such financial matters as managing bank accounts, paying bills, or making investment decisions. This document ensures that affairs are managed in your best interests, even if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • An Advance Healthcare Directive (aka living will) is a legal document that allows you to make healthcare decisions in advance, in case you become incapacitated. It typically includes instructions for medical treatment and organ donation. This document ensures that your healthcare wishes are respected and followed, even if you cannot communicate them. A unique document, the “Five Wishes” combines a living will and a health care surrogate in a single step.
  • A Trust is a legal entity that holds and manages assets on behalf of an individual or group. Created during a person’s lifetime, its varied purposes might include providing for minor grandchildren, protecting assets from creditors, or Medicaid planning.
  • A Will is a legal document that provides instructions on how your assets should be distributed upon your death. It typically specifies who will receive specific assets, how debts and taxes should be handled, and who will serve as the executor of your estate.

After a life well lived, don’t end things with a roll of the dice. Attend a free Estate Planning seminar at One Senior Place in Viera or Altamonte Springs, or call 321-751-6771.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.