When you create a Florida estate plan you are planning forward to ensure that you, your loved ones, your business, and what you care about most are protected from uncertainty. You are taking the proactive step to make a plan that will protect your loved ones and continue your legacy at the time of your passing, but also ensure you are provided for during your lifetime.
Your estate plan is about much more than who inherits from you at the time of your death. Through your Florida estate plan you can also ensure that you are protected during your lifetime as well by creating advanced directives. Advanced directives, which should be a part of your comprehensive estate plan, include documents that allow you to name a decision maker or agent to act for you should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions.
One of these key lifetime estate planning tools is your power of attorney. The power of attorney allows you to name a trusted person in your life to make your decisions should you be unable to do so yourself. Examples of these powers can include, but not be limited to, paying your mortgage if you were out of town, making sure your paycheck was deposited, making investment decisions for you, and even making health care decisions if you and your Florida estate planning attorney choose to add these powers in this estate planning tool as well.
We are frequently asked what the pros, and the cons, of creating such a document are. Let us share a few of them with you right here in our blog.
- Ensure there is a trusted decision maker, or agent, with legal authority to act in place should there come a time you cannot make decisions for yourself
- Planning early allows you the ability to choose who you want
- You can plan in advance to not only name a first choice, but a second, third, or more
- Avoid getting the court involved because you did not choose a person to act on your behalf and there is fighting over who should act for you
- Your agent can access all the public benefits you may need and more in a crisis
- The peace of mind that comes from knowing your choices will be honored even when you cannot make your own decisions
- Your estate planning attorney who understands your choices and can advocate for your wishes
- Not creating the right document for you, in other words, using a generic document that will not provide the lifetime protection you need
- The authority to act for you takes effect the minute the document is signed so you will need to be diligent in how you choose to handle and share information about this estate planning tool
- Creating a power of attorney that is not durable, which means it will not be able to be used when you are incapacitated
- Only naming one future decisions maker
- Not carefully choosing the person who will act on your behalf and, instead, choosing someone who you think “should” be given this role even though this individual may not be the most qualified person
When it comes to creating a durable power of attorney, the truth is that there are not nearly as many cons as there are pros. The benefits of creating this estate planning tool far outweigh the potential cons. Your Florida estate planning attorney will be able to answer your specific questions and work with you to create a document that will protect you and help you reach your goals for yourself, your family, and your business.
We know you may have questions. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website for assistance on what to do next if your aging parent has developed memory loss.