A major change to your life can happen at any time. You could suffer a head injury in a vehicle accident or become incapacitated due to a serious illness.
A healthcare directive and a financial power of attorney (POA) are two estate planning tools that will ease your mind if the unexpected should happen.
Your healthcare directive
A healthcare directive enables the person you name to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to speak for yourself. Those decisions might address your hospital care, surgery or home health care needs. In the state of Florida, there are two parts to this directive: the designation of a healthcare surrogate and your living will. Your estate planning attorney may also recommend that you prepare Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act (HIPAA) documents. Under federal law, HIPAA release documents protect the privacy of your medical records but allow family members access.
The financial power of attorney
Under a financial POA, you can also name someone to pay your bills, file your tax returns, manage your property, make investment decisions and assume other financial responsibilities on your behalf. A financial POA is also beneficial for people who just need a little day-to-day financial assistance, such as balancing the checkbook or helping with credit card questions.
Timely preparation of documents
Given that big changes in your life can occur unexpectedly, taking a proactive approach to the preparation of your healthcare directive and financial POA will ease your mind. Remember that people often face some form of dementia as they age. You must be mentally stable when you sign such documents in order for them to be legal.