Jacksonville Probate and Estate Planning Lawyers
A “Power of Attorney” is one of several documents collectively known as Advanced Directives. The others in this group are Living Wills and Designations of Health Care Surrogate. The Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to designate another person to manage your affairs if you become unable or unavailable to do so. The person appointed to this role is called an “Attorney-in-Fact.” The authority given to this individual varies. It depends on the particular language of the POA. It can be quite broad or only specify authority only as to well-defined criteria.
POAs come in three primary forms: (1) Limited; (2) General; and (3) Durable. The first two would terminate upon a mental disability (i.e., when you’d need it the most). However, the Durable POA remains in force (i.e., survives) even after you become incapable of managing your affairs (personal and financial), with a few exceptions.
A Durable POA can be revoked at any time if you’re mentally competent. Accordingly, a durable power of attorney can be useful, practical, and convenient as a resource. However, it should be used with caution, as it is a powerful tool with potentially broad discretion. Such a device should only be implemented under the guidance of an attorney to ensure it is not only drafted correctly but also that you understand how it works (including the benefits and detriments).
The document known as a “Living Will” is another legal document within the “Advanced Directives” portfolio. It verifies your intent regarding life-prolonging treatments/procedures if you are in a persistent vegetative state or an end-stage/terminal condition.
In Florida, Living Wills go into effect when your doctor:
1). Has a copy of it;
2). Has concluded you are not able to make your own health care decisions; and
3). Along with another doctor, have determined you are in a terminal condition, a persistent vegetative state or an end-stage condition.
A Living Will in Florida, which covers nearly all types of life-prolonging treatments, differs from a “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” order. A DNR addresses two life-threatening situations: if you suffer cardiac arrest (your heart stops beating) or respiratory arrest (you stop breathing), that your provider shall not attempt to revive you.
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate (DHCS) is another “Advanced Directives” portfolio item that allows for the appointment of another person to perform medical decisions for you on your behalf if you’re unable to do so (i.e., due to temporary or permanent health conditions).
An experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help you determine what Advance Directives are appropriate for you and your family.