Death and incapacity are among many people’s least favorite topics of discussion. Still, it’s important to think about the inevitable end of your life and the possibility that you may at some point become incapacitated.
Incapacity can happen in many different ways. Mental impairments and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia often eventually erode a person’s ability to care for themselves. In other cases, physical injuries from accidents and other causes may leave a person legally incapacitated.
The good news is that there are a number of legal tools available to help you make decisions now about what will happen in the event that can’t make some decisions later. Advanced directives are an important part of estate planning in which a person makes certain financial and healthcare decisions in case he or she becomes incapacitated and designates someone to handle various affairs that may come up.
It’s your right to make these decisions. It’s important, however to make sure that you’ve done it in a way that’s clear and legally sound.
Health Care Directives
Health care directives, as the name suggests, are tools for making certain health care decisions. That commonly includes whether to choose or refuse certain treatments in the event you become incapacitated. Florida law gives you the right to decide to turn down certain life-prolonging procedures and treatments. It also gives you the power to make clear that you want those procedures and treatments. Directives are additionally often used to direct anatomical donations in the event of death.
These decisions can be carried out creating a living will in advance and/or by appointing a healthcare surrogate to act on your behalf if and when you become incapacitated.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document in which you appoint a person to act on your behalf.
The specific actions that the person you appoint can take depend on the terms of the power of attorney. A healthcare surrogate, for example, is a power of attorney in which you designate someone to make calls about your medical treatment if needed. In other cases, a power of attorney may be used to grant a person the right to sell property and sign financial documents.
A durable power of attorney is a common way to designate someone to work on your behalf. The primary benefit of this particular type of advanced directive is that it doesn’t go into effect until you actually become incapacitated.
Consult a Miami Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is considering an advanced directive, it’s important to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced estate planning lawyer. A seasoned attorney can walk you through your rights and options and help you chart a plan that best meets your needs.
The Miami estate planning attorneys at Hoffman & Hoffman help people manage their assets and make decisions about their future. We are pleased to represent clients throughout South Florida, including in Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Coconut Grove. Contact us to speak with an attorney today.