As life expectancy has increased in the United State and particularly in Florida, the common issues of elder law and incapacity are becoming ever more prevalent. We have two sets of clients when it comes to these situations, 1. Those that have an Estate Plan in Place and 2. Those who do not. This article we follow the potential paths of two fictitious clients, Mr. Michael J. Unprepared and Mr. Jacob A. Prepared, and describe for you what can happen depending on what path you take.
Jacob is a 75 year old gentlemen. He had his first will devised in 1995, and since then he has had it revised twice, in 2005 and recently in 2017. All of these wills, were properly set up to plan for the worse and included a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate Agreement and a Power of Attorney Agreement. In recent weeks, Jacob’s cognition has begun to rapidly decline following the passing of his wife. This unfortunate circumstance could only be aggravated if his estate plan only named his wife as Power of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogate. Being ever prepared for the worst, Jacob designated his son, Walter, and his daughter, Lilith, as alternate Power of Attorneys and Healthcare Surrogates following the passing of his wife.
In his lower state of cognition, Jacob has grown entrusting and easily agitated, as well as, resistant to change. Although, since he has a properly prepared Estate Plan to address this issue, his children are able to help get him the treatment he needs through the use of the powers granted to them in the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate Agreement and a Power of Attorney Agreement.
Ultimately, the best way to handle the potential for incapacity is to be prepared. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. This is never truer than it is when it comes to Elder Law and specifically Incapacity proceedings. By planning ahead only slightly, parties who are unable to handle their affairs are able to control the process and protect themselves. No one wants to be stuck in the middle of an uncertain battle waiting for courts to make decisions on what will happen to them. But you can only prevent that from acting before it is too late.
Fortunately, the estate plans that we prepare here all include a designation of health care surrogate and durable power of attorney to help make sure you take Jacob A. Prepared’s Path and not Michael J. Unprepared’s. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free Goal Planning Session call The Weil Law Group, PA at 954-603-7603.