It is common in our culture to discuss what we would like to see happen with our assets when we die. What is less common is discussing with loved ones what we would like to see happen with those same assets should we become incapacitated. We are living longer and with longer life expectancies comes the increased likelihood that we will become incapacitated at some point in our lives. Incapacity could be temporary, like in the case of an accident, or permanent, like in the case of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. In each of these situations it is imperative that you have in place advance directives such as a durable power of attorney and health care surrogate. Click here to learn more about advance directives.
Having advance directives in place helps your loved ones make decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. Without these directives in place, the alternative is court involvement. In Florida, court involvement requires the filing of an incapacity petition and a petition to appoint a guardian. Both procedures are costly and stressful on your family. In the end, the court decides which rights you are no longer able to exercise and ultimately who will be appointed as guardian to exercise those rights for you. The result may be something you never would have planned for yourself. With proper advanced directives in place, regardless of a determination of incapacity, your wishes control.
Although advance directives can often avoid the necessity of court involvement in your life after a determination of incapacity, it may still be prudent to discuss with your attorney who you would want to serve as a guardian on your behalf in instances where court involvement is unavoidable. This may occur in instances of elder abuse or exploitation. Designating a pre-need guardian allows you, in these circumstances, to chose who will protect you from such harm. Click here to learn more about Guardianships.
To speak with a DeLand elder law lawyer about your wishes for your when or should you need incapacity planning, call Phillips & Finley LLC at 386-734-5959.