When a person, usually a senior, loses the ability to manage his or her affairs due to age or mental impairment, an adult guardian may need to be appointed by the local courts. This process allows a judge to appoint a person who is legally responsible for all aspects of the senior’s financial and physical well-being.
While this may sound like a reasonable way to help a senior who is incapable of making decisions or managing his or her own affairs, the process can be expensive, intrusive, and emotionally difficult for the senior and his or her family. Basically, the senior is losing his or her rights once an adult guardian is appointed. And, worst of all, the person a judge appoints to this position might be someone the senior would have never wanted to call the shots over his or her money or personal well-being.
The good news, however, is that there are a few simple documents that seniors can create while they are still well and of sound mind so that if the time comes when they can no longer manage their affairs, someone they trust is in line to make all decisions. They are as follows:
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal tool that grants an agent the authority to act on behalf of a person in financial matters, such as paying bills, buying and selling real estate, and conducting business dealings. The Power of Attorney helps avoid an adult guardianship since an agent is already appointed to handle financial decisions.
Living Will and Designation of Healthcare Agent
The Living Will and Designation of Healthcare Agent are legal tools that describe the type of medical care a person wishes to receive when they are incapacitated while also naming a person they trust to act as an agent in all healthcare matters in the event of incapacitation. As with the Power of Attorney, the Healthcare Agent should be someone who understands the importance of this role and can be trusted to make important medical decisions. Otherwise, the probate court may have to appoint a guardian to make healthcare decisions for you.
Designation of Guardian
Even if both the Power of Attorney and Healthcare Agent documents fail and a guardianship must be put in place, there is still one document which helps to ensure that the individual is placed under the care of a guardian of their own choosing. The Designation of Guardian is a document that allows a person to name the agents they would like to make financial and healthcare decisions for them. This document is presented to the probate court during guardianship proceedings to inform the judge that the individual made the decision while sound of mind to appoint specific people to these roles.
If you have any questions about how we can help you avoid a guardianship in Florida, please contact us at (813) 438-8503 to set up a consultation.