Attorneys Stephen Korshak and Lee Karina Dani

Have you given power that is durable?

One of the more important elements of your Florida estate plan is the power of attorney documents. You must create a powers of attorney before incapacitation occurs.

For many people, a discussion of an estate plan immediately brings to mind a will. The will can be an important document for any estate plan, but there is much more to an estate plan than a simple will. For example, powers of attorney are created ahead of incapacitation giving a person legal decision-making authority for another individual.

You want your estate plan to be comprehensive and to deal with as many potential eventualities as is reasonably possible. A will or other legal instruments that will transfer your assets and property to your heirs or other beneficiaries is necessary because no matter how long a life is, we all recognize the inevitability of death.

What about incapacity?

So every estate plan is drafted with that inevitability factored in. However, there are other functions that a well-conceived estate plan can be designed to handle. As people age and live longer, there is always an increased risk of illnesses or medical conditions that can be incapacitating, such as a stroke or mental impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

While some, like Alzheimer’s, may develop slowly and allow the necessary documents to be drawn up when it becomes clear what is occurring, a stroke can be equally incapacitating but can appear with shocking suddenness.

In addition, no matter your age, we are all at risk for the disabling injuries that can occur in the event of a catastrophic car accident. A severe, traumatic brain injury can be just as disabling as a stroke or dementia.

What do you need?

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to authorize an agent to act on your behalf. It can be for a single transaction. Say you are in the military and need to sell some property in Florida while you are overseas and cannot return for the closing. A power of attorney can authorize your agent to sell property in your absence.

This type of power of attorney typically expires when the transaction is complete. While you could have a broader power of attorney that would extend over a longer period of time, it would not be used in an estate plan, because a more powerful instrument is needed.

A standard power of attorney is extinguished by any incapacity, so for estate plan purposes, you need to use a durable power of attorney. This document, as the name suggests, is durable and will survive your incapacity.

Durable power of attorney

If you authorize your spouse or children via a durable power of attorney, it provides them with the ability to pay your bills and ensures that they are not forced into expensive and time-consuming litigation to determine your degree of incapacity.

If you suffered a stroke, your home and other property would still have utility bills and require maintenance. Without a durable power of attorney, those caring for you might not have access to the funds necessary to ensure that those bills are paid and that any necessary work is completed.

There are other documents that you will want in your estate plan, including your will, possible trusts, a durable power of attorney and healthcare directives. An attorney at Korshak & Associates, P.A. can help you determine your goal and assemble a comprehensive estate plan that is designed to ensure your wishes are capable of being carried out. Call 888-681-4389.