What is a power of attorney?

Elder adults in Florida may suffer from various mental and physical health conditions that make it difficult for them to maintain their independence and make decisions regarding their health and finances. For this reason, it is extremely important for them to have a power of attorney included in their estate plan.

A power of attorney is an essential estate planning document

Despite having the word ‘attorney’ in the title, the person with the ‘power of attorney’ does not have to be an attorney. Older adults can give almost any trusted adult the right to act on their behalf in a variety of situations by signing a power of attorney, or POA. There are multiple types of power of attorney including:

  • General – A person with general POA, otherwise known as an agent, generally acts on behalf of the elder adult in various financial and legal situations. For example, an agent may sign documents, buy and sell property, open and close bank accounts, and pay bills, on behalf of the elder adult.
  • Medical – A person with medical POA, will act as the decision maker when it comes to the elder adult’s healthcare. The agent will consent to medical treatments and surgeries on behalf of the elder adult, as well as choose a living facility for the elder adult, if necessary.
  • Durable – With a durable POA, the agent will make financial, legal, and medical decisions on behalf of the elder adult, even if the elder adult becomes incapacitated. A durable POA is important for elder adults with more serious health conditions.
  • Limited – POAs do not have to last forever or be unlimited in scope. With a limited POA, an elder adult can give someone the power to make decisions on their behalf for a specific period of time or only with regards to a certain transaction.
  • Springing – A springing POA only goes into effect after an elder adult is officially declared as incapacitated. While this allows the elder adult to maintain independence until they truly become unable for themselves, the families may have to deal with a costly and time-consuming evaluation process to determine their competence.

A POA is an essential part of estate planning for seniors and should be taken seriously. An attorney specializing in elder care law can help you manage your affairs and ensure that the older adults in your life are taken care of.

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