Handling complex divorce and family law cases for Pensacola and surrounding communities

Create A Custom Made Florida Estate Plan By Getting Answers To Your Florida Estate Planning Questions

Attorney Christine S. Cook offers over two decades of legal experience and Florida estate planning knowledge. Here are some of the more commonly asked questions she encounters with clients. For answers to your specific questions or to arrange a meeting, call the Pensacola office at 850-572-3443.

What is the difference between a will and a living will in Florida?

A will, or last will and testament, is a legal document that sets forth your wishes. A will can include where and how and to whom you would like your property given. It can include personalized instructions to your loved ones as to the roles you would like them to take on should you become incapacitated or after your death, and it can lay out how you would like to be cared for in your last days.

A living will is often a component of a will. It is also referred to as a “heath care directive.” As the name indicates, this directive describes the type of care and medical procedures or interventions you would like, or would not like, when you are still alive, but in a state of dying and unable to voice your wishes. The benefit of having a living will is to ensure you receive the care you want and to provide clear instructions so that your loved ones are not left guessing or arguing about your care.

What is a designation of health care surrogate?

A health care surrogate is someone who you’ve chosen to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make decisions or communicate what you want. You may be permanently unable to make decisions or you may be temporarily unable to, as in the event you are under general anesthesia, are in a coma or have had a stroke. Official documentation of a health care surrogate gives the person you designate permission to access your medical records and be able to have conversations about your care with your medical providers or caregivers.

What is a pre-need guardian in Florida?

A guardian is a person you designate to ensure all of your needs are taken care of in the event that you become incapacitated. An officially designated guardian will be able to make decisions regarding the type of care you receive and where you live. You may need a guardian to do this for you because of a prolonged, severe illness, serious injury or disability. A guardian can be a family member, friend or an institution.

A pre-need guardian is an estate planning tool that allows you to name someone you trust for this role. The court does not have to appoint this person, but it is extremely helpful to have this document so that there is no question as to whom you would choose. A guardian for you as an incapacitated adult is different than the guardianship designation for your children you may have included in your will.

What would I need to establish a financial power of attorney in Florida?

It is important to establish a power of attorney (POA) before you need one. Obviously, if you have a stroke or are in a serious accident, you will not be able to designate a POA, so doing this now, while you are mentally capable is crucial.

A POA gives the person you designate the power or right to act on your behalf in financial matters. The POA document can be as specific as you need it to be. Typically, the POA becomes effective when you become unable to make financial transactions, such as paying bills, on your own. The designated POA can then pay your bills including your taxes, collect debts on your behalf and make other transactions for you. A POA usually expires when you die. Sometimes the person who is the POA is called an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.”

The Answers You Need Are A Phone Call Away

Christine S. Cook offers trusted guidance on Florida estate planning matters. Call 850-572-3443 to arrange a free consultation. You can also start the ball rolling by sending an inquiry email to the firm.

Serving clients throughout Pensacola, Escambia County and the surrounding areas.


Christine S. Cook has earned a reputation in the legal community for her professionalism and among her clients for the care and personal attention she gives to every case.

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Christine Sue Cook, LLC

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Pensacola, FL 32502
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