Couples are under the impression that when they get married, they are joining together as husband and wife creating a unity. This is sort of true, but legally, it’s not the case.
What if you wanted to access your spouse’s IRA accounts? You would need to gain permission from your spouse, which is simple enough if your spouse is competent and able to give verbal or written permission.
What happens if your spouse is incapacitated and unable to properly give their permission? Martial rights do not give you the legal right to handle your spouse’s financial affairs. Simply stated, you cannot show up and say “I am his wife”. That does not give you the permission necessary to handle your spouse’s financial affairs.
What does give you that permission though, is a durable power of attorney, which is effective as soon as it’s signed. This legal document will give your spouse (or whom ever you choose to designate) the authority to handle your financial affairs and many other specific matters.
In Florida, whether you are married or single, it is important to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney to give someone else the authority to handle your affairs if you are no longer capable. Please keep in mind, that this document needs to be prepared before you are unable to make your own decisions. Otherwise, a guardianship (legal process) would have to be opened in order to allow someone else to make decisions for you.
If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties it is time to start discussing with loved ones their estate planning needs. 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.