Are you thinking of executing a power of attorney for an elderly parent? If so, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the process.
Powers of attorney can be confusing for anyone, but if you have no prior legal experience, you may feel incredibly intimidated about becoming an agent for an elderly parent. However, for many individuals, powers of attorney are essential documents to ensure that they respect their parents’ wishes as they get older.
To help you better understand Florida’s POA process, we have put together five common misunderstandings about executing this document for an elderly parent. Read ahead to learn the realities of POAs in Florida.
Misunderstanding #1: A Durable Power of Attorney Survives Death
Reality: A Durable Power of Attorney only remains effective until the principal dies.
One of the most common misconceptions regarding powers of attorney in Florida is their duration. Many people believe that these documents will last from the time of signing and even after the person passes away.
Durable powers of attorney only remain effective until the principal passes away.
Misunderstanding #2: You Never Need to Update Your Power of Attorney After Creating It
Reality: You should update your power of attorney with your elderly parents regularly.
Some individuals view a power of attorney as a one-and-done document. However, depending on when you sign this document with your parents, their wishes, financial situation, and health could change several times. Updating the POA regularly is an effective way to make sure it reflects your parent’s current needs. One of the biggest mistakes we see is that people do not continue to make sure that the person who they originally named to serve as their agent still wants to serve. It is a good idea to regularly check in with the person you name as your agent to make sure that they can and want to still act on your behalf if something happens to you.
Misunderstanding #3: You only need to name one Agent in your Durable Power of Attorney
Reality: It is a good practice to name at least two, and preferably three, alternates to act on your behalf.
One of the biggest issues I see is that the person you have named to act as an agent passes away or becomes too sick to help you.
One of the best things you can do is make sure you have named a series of alternates who can help you if you become incapacitated. Failing to do so could mean that you end up with the state making decisions on your behalf about who should help you. This process is called guardianship. Not only are guardianships a matter of public record, but they are also very expensive. And worst of all, you may not even know the person who the court appoints to make critical medical and financial decisions for you.
Misunderstanding #4: Your Parent Doesn’t Need a POA if They Have an Advance Directive
Reality: Elderly individuals should have both a POA and an advance directive to have the most comprehensive coverage.
Many elderly individuals choose to sign advance directives, or living wills, detailing their wishes about healthcare processes if they fall ill. Meanwhile, a designation of health care surrogate is a type of advance directive that gives another person the authority to make health-related decisions.
We recommend having an advance directive, a durable power of attorney, and a preneed guardian designation to cover all of your parent’s bases regarding both their healthcare needs and financial needs. There is a critical interplay between your health care surrogate and agent under a durable power of attorney. The person making health care decisions for you will need access to money. An advance directive may only include specific health-related processes, but having a designation of health care surrogate ensures that you can make any other decisions for your loved one, rather than leaving the choice up to a doctor.
Misunderstanding #5: You Can Sign an Effective POA Without an Attorney’s Assistance
Reality: An attorney will enable you to sign a comprehensive, custom POA that suits your specific needs.
Modern technology allows individuals to access all of the POA documents they need online. While quickly signing a POA from your computer may sound tempting, not giving adequate attention and expertise to this matter could lead you to make a drastic mistake involving your elderly parent’s care.
Instead, we always recommend that individuals speak with a professional estate planning attorney when creating a POA. Attorneys can help you determine which specific type of POA to execute, what details to include, and how to best keep it up to date.
Estate Planning Attorney Near Me in Palm Harbor
Without a POA in your name, a person you do not know may be able to make decisions for your elderly parent. If you’re considering executing a POA for a parent or other family members, you need a professional, compassionate estate planning attorney to help you through the process.
Sherri M. Stinson, P.A., has the experience to help you make the right decisions about your loved one’s future and respect their wishes as accurately as possible. She can also help you with other legal issues regarding estate planning, estate recovery, or care costs. Contact her office in Palm Harbor, FL, today at 727-351-7057 or complete the online form to schedule an initial consultation for legal services.
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