Laura J Larson, Esquire

Law Offices of
Laura J. Larson, P.A.
Attorney at Law
Laura J Larson, Destin, FL Attorney At Law (Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Elder Law)
Wills                Trusts                Estates                Probate              Elder Law  
The whole notion of estate planning can be frightening for most families.  

Discussions about Wills, about "who gets what," and about family members dying tend to put a real damper on
family get togethers.  As a result, these conversations do take place, and they are moments when families come
together to discover, often for the first time, what their priorities are.

    Estate planning involves many key documents such as:
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Durable powers of Attorney
  • Trusts—Especially special needs Trusts

When most individuals think about Estate Planning they think about a plan of administration and disposition of their
estate using a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Trust, which focus on finances and property.  Many people
do not realize that in an Estate Plan that they may also plan for illness or incapacity.

According to Florida law every competent adult over the age of 18 is granted the right to make certain decisions
about his or her medical treatment.  Under certain conditions you have the right to either accept or reject medical
treatment and other procedures that would artificially prolong your life.  Additionally, Florida law ensures that even
if you are incapacitated or too ill to make your own decisions your rights and personal wishes will be respected.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice
regarding your own situation.  The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.
Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.
A Living Will allows you to state that you do not want to be kept
alive by medical treatment when you have a terminal condition or
end-stage illness or are in a persistent vegetative state, and are
no longer able to decide matters for yourself.

The Living Will spells out your wishes regarding the withholding
or withdrawing of life-prolonging measures when there can be no
hope of recovery, as certified by two physicians. Medications or
medical procedures necessary to alleviate pain or provide for
your comfort would continue to be provided.
A Designated Health Care Surrogate Document is an Advance Directive which specifically allows you to
name another person, the Surrogate, to make medical decisions for you anytime you become unable to
make them yourself.  By your designation of the Surrogate you are allowing him or her to consult with
health care providers and give informed consent to perform medical and surgical procedures that he or she
believes you would have agreed to under the circumstances.  The Surrogate makes the decisions he or
she believes you would make if you were able to.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a
document very similar to the Health Care Surrogate. It
allows you to give your decision-making power for your
medical decisions to someone else called an Agent.  

In this document you have the ability to grant powers as
specific as necessary such as the withholding or
withdrawing of life support, provisions for food and water
and administration of pain medications.
(850) 460-7933
4141 Commons Dr. W #4422
Destin, FL 32541
A Will is a legal document stating your intentions or
desires and is designed to direct the probate court as to
how you want your assets distributed and who will be
the beneficiaries of your estate upon your death,
including how and when they will receive their

In your Will you can direct your funeral arrangements
and even designate an individual to care for your minor
In a Will you name a person to be your Personal Representative,
whose job will be to "administer" the estate.  

In other words the Personal Representative will follow your
instructions in your Will in gathering your assets for distribution.
In practice, this means determining and liquidating all of your
assets and debts, including bank accounts, mortgages, stocks
and bonds, pension benefits, unpaid wages and employment
A Will only governs the distribution of you property left solely in your name upon death. Generally, if property passes to a new
owner upon your death, for example by a beneficiary designation such as in life insurance or by joint tenancy with right of
survivorship (e.g. a bank account), then that property is not in your name at death and therefore it will not be part of your probate
estate and will not be governed by the provisions in your Last Will and Testament.
Laura J Larson is a Florida lawyer who practices in Destin, FL and serves clients from Okaloosa County, Walton County, and
Santa Rosa County, including cities of Destin, Ft Walton Beach, Niceville, Miramar Beach, Navarre, Gulf Breeze, Shalimar, and
surrounding areas. The law firm focuses on preparation of Estate Planning documents that include Last Will and Testament,
Living Will, Trust, Family Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, Designated Health Care Surrogate, and other documents.
Serving Destin, FL and surrounding areas
It is important to discuss advanced directives with your physicians, family and those who you designate as either a
Surrogate or Agent.  You should keep your Advanced Directives readily available and not locked in a safety deposit
box.  Be sure to let your loved ones know where you keep these important documents. Also, it is a good idea to
have a copy in your medical file and to bring a copy to the hospital for every admission. Keep in mind you may
change or revoke your Advance Directive(s), but  these changes do not go into effect until you communicate them to
your health care provider.
Many people fail to execute a Last Will and Testament.  Most often individuals are afraid to face their own mortality or believe
that they do not own enough assets necessitating the execution of a Will.   

If you die without a valid Will, also known as “dying intestate”, you have no control over where your property goes. Instead, the
laws of the State of Florida make that decision. According to these laws, your property will be distributed to your relatives in a
certain manner based upon your relationship (blood or marriage) to those persons. These laws also allow the court to determine
who will be the Personal Representative of your estate and even the guardians of your minor children.  

Any person who is 18 years of age or older and who is of sound mind may make a Will. The document must be witnessed and
notarized.  You must  sign your Will at the end of the document in the presence of at least two witnesses who are both present at
the same time and place with you. A Will is usually signed in the presence of a notary public in addition to the witnesses so that
the Will is self proving, which allows the Will to be admitted to probate after your death without having the witnesses come to

A Will is your opportunity to let your family and loved ones know what your intentions are after you have died.  Do you really
want to leave it up to Florida law to make the determination of the distribution of your assets upon your death when you can
express your wishes now by executing your Last Will and Testament?
(850) 460-7933
4141 Commons Dr. W #4422
Destin, FL 32541
Laura J Larson, Esquire