Power Of Attorney and Health Care Advance Directives
A power of attorney is a legal document granting another party the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. Health care advance directives act in a similar fashion, detailing your wishes and granting authority to another to make decisions regarding your health care and end of life needs. Both of these documents play an important role in Florida estate planning, helping to protect your rights and interests, while alleviating the burden from your family in having to make these types of important decisions.
What Is A Power Of Attorney?
As listed under Chapter 709 of the Florida State Statutes, a power of attorney (POA) grants another individual the legal authority to make decisions regarding your property and assets if you are unable to in the event of an injury or illness. As the principal, you name an agent to act on your behalf, and in the scope outlined within your POA contract. This may include any of the following actions:
- Buying, selling, transferring, and maintaining real or personal property;
- Minimizing taxes and tax penalties in relation to your income, estate, or an inheritance;
- Ensuring eligibility for government benefits and assistance programs;
- Cooperating with others, such as those with the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf;
- Maintaining your previous patterns or history in making gifts or payments to others.
Your agent must keep a thorough inventory of any assets they have the authority to access, and must keep all bills, statements, and receipts in regards to any transactions made. The have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests in all matters and in a way that preserves your estate, in accordance with any wishes you may have previously expressed.
Health Care Advance Directives
While a POA grants another the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf and in accordance with your wishes, health care advance directives can act in a similar fashion in regards to any medical care and treatment you receive. The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration advises that there are three main types of advance directives:
- Living Will: This is a written statement regarding the types of medical care you do or do not want.
- Anatomical Donation: This designates what organs you wish to donate in the event of your death.
- Health Care Surrogate Designation: Known as a Medical Power of Attorney, this grants authority to another to make important medical decisions on your behalf.
All of these documents are important in the event the unexpected occurs, such as an accident or injury which leaves you in a coma or on life support, or when you are in the late stages of an illness or chronic condition which impairs your abilities, such as a stroke, cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease. They allow you to make predetermined decisions regarding your affairs and the type of care you want, which alleviates the guesswork for your family members and friends. To discuss how these documents may apply to your situation, contact the Protect My Assets Law Group and request a consultation with one our experienced Boca Raton estate planning attorneys today.