Hopefully, we will never have to act as a durable power of attorney for our elderly parents. But with the Alzheimer’s Association reporting that five million people in the U.S. are suffering from the disease, alone, there is the unfortunate chance that a durable power of attorney will be necessary in instances of dementia or other illness that leaves a person incapacitated.
A durable power of attorney is different than a power of attorney, and it offers many more benefits to the person it was designed to help and his or her loved ones. Here’s a look at the differences.
- In the state of Florida, a power of attorney is a legal document in which you designate someone to act on your behalf, or when you are given power of attorney to act on someone else’s behalf. In Florida, a power of attorney must be signed before two witnesses and a notary public to be considered legally recognized under state law.
- A regular power of attorney ends if the person it represents becomes incapacitated. That’s when a special kind of power of attorney, known as a durable power of attorney, is better. A durable power of attorney, unlike a power of attorney, is “durable,” even if a person suffers mental incapacity in the future.
- A durable power of attorney is the most important estate planning document a person can have. Adult children of elderly parents need to tell their parents to include a durable power of attorney in their estate plan.
- A durable power of attorney can, in additional to handling all financial decisions, authorize medical care. That includes consent to proceed with or terminate all medical and surgical procedures on your behalf, including an agreement that falls under the Life-Prolonging Procedures Act of Florida.
In 2011, Florida lawmakers changed the state’s durable power of attorney law. The changes gave a durable power of attorney immediate power. Under the revised law, the durable power of attorney is signed and goes into effect immediately. There is no waiting period, including waiting until the person or loved one suffers incapacitation and cannot make financial and healthcare decisions on their own.
Your parents life and future is at stake. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best by including a durable power of attorney in your estate plan, and your parents’ estate plan. See an experienced estate planning attorney who can walk you through the process to ensure it complies with Florida law and protects your family.
Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.