Your father’s bank calls and tells you they are concerned that “friends” are bringing him to the bank on a regular basis and helping him cash checks and make ATM withdrawals. How can you stop others from taking advantage of your father? A nurse calls to tell you your wife has been admitted to the emergency room and doctors need to talk with her health care surrogate. You ask, “What is a health care surrogate?” Your adult son is in a terrible car accident leaving him in a coma. Who will pay your son’s bills while he recovers?
Lack of planning can compound such situations, often resulting in a court having to appoint a legal guardian to protect the incapacitated individual. Can you avoid a costly guardianship proceeding? It depends on how well you plan for the unexpected.
For instance, spouses of individuals married in the above scenarios would not automatically have authority to make medical and financial decisions for their husband or wife. A spouse has priority to become guardian, but the guardianship process may still be necessary if a spouse failed to execute basic estate planning documents prior to becoming incapacitated. Florida law also decides who can be appointed guardian for unmarried persons. How do you protect yourself if you do not want certain people to have guardianship authority over your finances or health care?
Be Ready When Life Throws You A Curve Ball
The greatest legacy you can leave your loved ones is a thoughtful estate plan. Planning with an experienced attorney to protect yourself should you become incapacitated allows your appointed agent(s) to honor your wishes about your health care and finances. The essential documents typically include: a health care surrogate, living will, HIPPA release, pre-
need guardian designation, durable power of attorney and last will. Take advantage of a complimentary consultation with Susan Gregory, an Elder Law attorney in Venice, who can help you develop a plan that will take care of you and your loved ones. We all leave a legacy. What do you want yours to be?
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Susan E. Gregory, Esq. with Legacy Lawyer, 321 Nokomis Ave. So., Venice. 34285. She can be reached at 941-486-8700.