Getting Your Affairs in Order
Leaving our medical, legal, and financial affairs in order is a last gift to our loved ones. While it may not be enjoyable to think about, making plans for handling these issues is a must. Prepare your advance directive now and cross this item off your to-do list.
There are five documents we generally recommend preparing for an advance directive:
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate
- Living Will
- Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian
- Power of Attorney, and
- Will or Trust
Each of these documents is described below. We can also discuss any or all of these in more detail if you have questions. You’ll also need to decide who you want to make decisions and manage your affairs at such time that it becomes necessary.
Once you have decided which documents you’ll need and decided who to appoint, you are ready to begin the process. We’ll schedule a phone appointment (or we can meet in person if you prefer) to discuss your designations and answer any questions. After that, we’ll prepare the documents and set a date for you to come in to sign and finalize your directives.
One note: although it’s our job to prepare the documents and ensure that they’re correctly executed, it is your job to be explicit about your goals and to choose the people who will carry out your wishes. When considering who to appoint to manage your affairs, think very carefully about their trustworthiness, as well as their capacity for making difficult decisions.
Advance Directive Documents
The Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions in the event that you are unable to make health care decisions on your own behalf. This document can be used for temporary incapacity or during a time period prior to appointment of a guardian (if you become permanently incapacitated).
A Living Will allows you to choose what kinds of life-sustaining medical treatment you want and do not want if you end up in a permanent vegetative state. A Living Will also requires you to designate a person who will carry out your wishes
The Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian allows you to choose the person that you would like the court to appoint to handle your affairs in the unfortunate event that you become permanently incapacitated.
The Power of Attorney allows you to grant very specific legal rights to someone you trust. In the State of Florida, when you grant someone power of attorney, you must do so in a manner that gives them immediate powers. In the past, the law allowed you to designate someone to have this power only in the event that you could not exercise it on your own. However, this rule has been changed, and you are now required to give the power to someone currently. When we finalize the power of attorney, you have the option to be very specific about which powers you are granting. For example, you do not have to grant the power to sell your home.
In preparing your Will, we will need to know who you would like to appoint as your Personal Representative. A personal representative is the person who will be wrapping up all of your affairs. Being a personal representative can be a difficult and time-consuming responsibility. Choose someone you trust; however, their ability to manage your affairs is extremely important. They should have good organizational skills, and they will need to work with attorneys and possibly go to court.
For your will, you will also need to do your best to describe how you would like your assets to be divided and who they will go to. If you have specific heirlooms, make a list of who you want each particular heirloom to go to. We will also need the full legal names and contact information for everyone you intend to leave something to. While not legally required, a contact list makes it easier to locate them later on.
For each person that you choose for your Advanced Directive, you will also need to choose a back-up person. For most people, it is prudent to choose the same few people. Once again, it is important to consider each person’s individual capacity for making these very important decisions at a time when there could be significant emotional turmoil.
If you decide to hire us to assist you in these matters, we can begin work as soon as we receive all this information from you. At that time we will get in touch to answer any questions and go over any additional details that are likely to arise. If you have any questions or need to discuss details about any of this prior to choosing who you want to manage your affairs or in regards to how you want your estate divided, please give us a call.
Contact Experienced Gainesville Advance Directive Attorneys
To learn more about the compensation an experienced lawyer can help you receive, contact us online or call (352) 376-1200. We offer free initial consultations and handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not be responsible for paying attorneys’ fees unless we make a favorable resolution on your behalf.