Having an estate plan in place is one of the most essential and effective ways to ensure your loved ones will be protected no matter the circumstances that arise. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you unexpectedly lose the ability to take care of yourself or make your own decisions? If you have not, it is time to start thinking about these questions and establishing a plan that fits your unique needs.
Creating a durable power of attorney is one way to accomplish this. A durable power of attorney is a critical part of your Florida estate planning. Let us share some common questions many of our clients ask us about durable power of attorneys so you can make an informed decision about the right estate plan for you.
1. What is a durable power of attorney?
In general, through a power of attorney you appoint a close friend or family member as an agent with wide-ranging authority over your decisions, usually for your real property and finances. You have the power to decide whether the durable power of attorney provides broad or limited authority over your affairs. This document is typically set up at the same time as a last will and testament, but does not have to be.
2. Why should the power of attorney be “durable”?
If you wish for the power of attorney to remain in effect in the event you become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently, it must be designated as “durable”. If it is not, your power of attorney may not be effective.
3. Do I need a durable power of attorney for long-term care reasons?
Yes. A durable power of attorney can provide a high level of asset protection if the document is drafted correctly by an elder law attorney. In particular, if you should need to become a resident at a nursing home, your property may be subject to payment for those services. Taking the necessary steps to ensure your assets are protected and your agent has the authority to act for you in a crisis should help prevent this potential issue from ever arising.
4. How do I make sure I choose the right agent?
For many of our clients, having the option to choose his or her own agent is very important. If you do not decide who to appoint while you still have the capacity to do so, you will not be able to do so should you lack capacity. When you fail to plan, a guardianship may become necessary and in those instances a judge could make the decision on your behalf. Designating someone you trust implicitly, whether it be a close friend or family member, can give you peace of mind that your affairs will be well-taken care of.
Once you create your Florida durable power of attorney and appoint someone as your agent, that person can begin making decisions on your behalf as early or as late as you wish. Knowing you have someone who can watch out for your financial needs and act in your best interest can be comforting.
Remember, these are just a few of the questions our clients ask us. We all have unique planning needs, so it is crucial to discuss your options with an estate planning attorney. Do you have additional questions not covered in this article? Do not wait to talk to our office about the estate planning options available to you.