As a child, you see your parents as superheroes. They are the most amazing people you will ever meet. They take care of you when you are sick, pack your lunch (sometimes not the best meal), or act as your personal chauffer from one after school activity to the next.
In a blink of an eye, you are an adult, acting as a superhero for your own children. You begin to realize that your parents, who did everything for you, now require your help. They might forget to pay their bills or may make decisions where you ask yourself, “Why in the world did they agree to that?” Roles have been reversed and you are now parenting your parents.
When a parent is unable to make his or her own decisions (even if they aren’t deemed incapacitated), a power of attorney is necessary.
In Florida, a power of attorney is used by Florida estate planning attorneys to help their clients plan for incapacity. A power of attorney allows you to name the person who can act on your behalf so that the court does not have to. The person who signs the power of attorney is the “principal”. The person authorized to act on behalf of the principal is known as the “agent”. Without proper planning, if actions need to be taken by a person who has lost mental capacity, there is a court procedure called a “guardianship”. Guardianship proceedings require an attorney to represent you in court. In Florida, a guardianship can be financially costly and emotionally draining.
Preparing a power of attorney in Florida will allow you to name the person who can act on your behalf so that the court does not have to make that decision. A power of attorney can save you thousands of dollars by avoiding guardianship proceedings.
There are a number of power of attorney options available in Florida.
General Power of Attorney: Given for all purposes and not limited in scope. The agent under a general power of attorney can take any act that the principal could take.
Specific Power of Attorney: Granted for a specific purpose. For example, the principal might authorize the agent to buy/sell real estate.
Durable Power of Attorney: Contains specific language stating that the agent’s ability to act on behalf of the principal is not affected by the principal’s subsequent incapacity.
Health Care Power of Attorney (Health Care Surrogate): Allows someone to make end-of-life or other medical decisions on behalf of the principal.
Well planned estate planning includes a power of attorney. If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties and have elder parents, you may want to discuss preparing a power of attorney. You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.