Imagine this scenario: you are in an accident, suffering from an illness, or incapacitated due to aging. And this leaves you unable to communicate with your doctors regarding your medical care, or offer instruction to family members regarding your finances. Not a rosy picture. But a real one, nonetheless. This scenario – faced by many families — explains very clearly why a power of attorney is so important.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone of your choosing the power to act on your behalf. With a power of attorney, the trusted individual that you name will be legally permitted to take care of certain matters for you. What authority is granted depends on the specific language of the Power of Attorney. You may make the power very broad or limit it to certain specific acts. All powers of attorney are different and each type gives the designated individual a different level of control.
A general power of attorney provides a person or organization with broad powers to act on your behalf. This may include handling financial matters, business transactions, operating business interests, purchasing life insurance, settling claims, making gifts, and employing professional staff. A general power of attorney is frequently included in an estate plan to ensure that someone can handle financial matters. It is an effective tool for those traveling out of the country who may need someone to tend to financial matters while they are gone.
A health care power of attorney grants a designated individual the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or unable to make decisions on your own.
A special power of attorney allows you to specify exactly what powers an individual may exercise. This type of power of attorney is frequently used in situations where one is unable to handle certain affairs due to health reasons or other commitments. Common matters that are specified in these documents include selling property, collecting debts, managing real estate, and handling business transactions.
Ordinary – or nondurable – powers of attorney automatically end if the individual making the document becomes mentally incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect even if the person becomes incapacitated. Florida law specifies certain exceptions when a Durable Power of Attorney may not be used for an incapacitated individual; a Durable Power of Attorney must contain special wording that specifies that the power remains in effect in the event the individual is incapacitated.
Along with your Power of Attorney and Health Care Powers of Attorney, Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll will also provide you with an “I.C.E.” card to carry with you in your wallet. It will specify the names of loved ones to call in the event you are in an accident or suddenly become ill and cannot communicate with emergency care-givers.
Particularly if you live alone, your pet is at risk if you are involved in an accident or suddenly become ill and cannot tell anyone that you have a pet alone at home. Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll will put that information on your I.C.E. card so emergency caregivers will know to notify your loved ones that your pet is alone at home and needs care too.
Don’t wait to make a power of attorney. These documents require little time and effort. If something should happen to you and you do not have powers of attorney, your loved ones will not be able to handle your affairs; they may need to go to court to gain the authority to do so. The estate planning professionals at Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll personally develop powers of attorney and estate plans, so you can rest knowing your affairs will be taken care of according to your wishes. Contact a member of our team today to schedule a consultation; reach our office at 561-721-0600 or contact us online.
The North Palm Beach Estate Planning Lawyers of Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll, welcome clients from the cities of West Palm Beach, Stuart, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach, Jupiter, Tequesta, Juno Beach, Singer Island, Lake Park, Hobe Sound, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, as well as all of Palm Beach County, Martin County and South Florida.
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