In Florida, estate planning can be used to both determine how your assets will be distributed after you die and appoint someone who can manage your affairs if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your affairs. Planning for your potential incapacity may help save your family money and heartache if you are seriously injured or sickened and unable to make your own decisions.
How is incapacity determined?
Normally, estate planning documents will define how a person’s incapacity should be determined. For example, your estate plan may state that you only be deemed to be incapacitated after one or two doctors certify that you are impaired. If the doctors give a certificate of incapacity, that may trigger a durable power of attorney that you have in place.
If you did not designate durable powers of attorney in your estate planning to allow your designated agent or attorney-in-fact to make decisions for you, your loved ones will have to petition the probate court to appoint a guardian to act for you. The guardianship process can be long and expensive, and a court-appointed guardian can also charge high fees.
All adults should consider planning their estates. Even young adults in their 20s can be seriously injured in accidents or develop severe illnesses that can leave them unable to manage their affairs on their own. People may want to talk to experienced estate planning attorneys for help with determining the various types of estate planning documents that may benefit them and protect their loved ones if the unthinkable happens. Even if you do not have substantial assets, a durable power of attorney may allow you to control who can make decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated.