Are you the adult child of a parent who has retired to the state of Florida? You know that your parent did not create an estate plan in their previous home, but how about now in Florida? In fact, after recently visiting your parent in Florida, are you concerned about their declining health, both mentally and physically? In a Florida estate plan there are important legal documents called power of attorney (POA). A power of attorney allows your parent to appoint someone else, called an “agent,” to make decisions on his or her behalf. As the adult child of an aging parent, encourage your parent to consider granting a POA for the following reasons:
- Health concerns: As your parent ages, he or she may experience health issues that make it difficult for him or her to manage any financial and legal affairs. A POA can ensure that all financial and legal affairs are taken care of even if your parent should become incapacitated.
- Planning for the future: A POA can help your parent plan for the future by giving someone he or she chooses the authority to make decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is unable to do so.
- Financial management: A POA can give the agent your parent has chosen the authority to manage his or her finances, including paying bills, managing investments, and accessing bank accounts. This can be especially important if your parent is no longer able to manage his or her finances independently.
- Medical decision making: A POA can give the agent your parent has chosen the authority to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is unable to do so. This can be particularly important if your parent has a serious illness and is unable to communicate his or her wishes.
- Avoiding guardianship: A POA can help your parent avoid guardianship proceedings in court. Guardianship is a legal process that would be required if your parent becomes incapacitated and is unable to make decisions for himself or herself. By having a POA in place, your parent can avoid the time, expense and loss of privacy that comes with a court-supervised guardianship process.
You need to know that Florida laws regarding POAs are unique, and it is important to consult with a qualified Florida estate planning attorney. Your Florida attorney will be sure the POA of your parent is executed in accordance with Florida laws and with the wishes of your parent.
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.