When Florida lawyers use the term “advance directives”, what do we mean? Advance Directives is the umbrella term that describes documents that you put in place before you become incapacitated that are designed to speak for you if you do become incapacitated.
Twice in the past few weeks we have had clients come in with durable powers of attorney that are more than 10 years old. The durable power of attorney is the legal document that states who you want to handle your non-medical affairs if you are incapacitated and can no longer handle them yourself. Although Florida durable powers of attorney do not legally expire, they can become less effective due to changes in the law.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) has designated May as National Elder Law Month in part to facilitate discussions about long-term care planning and spotlight the steps involved in putting a long-term care plan in place.
When a health condition or injury renders Florida adults no longer able to handle their own affairs, they need a representative to step in and speak for them. Usually there are two types of representatives. One representative handles medical issues and one representative handles financial issues. The representative handling financial issues can either be an agent under a durable power of attorney, a trustee under a trust or in cases of a failure to plan ahead, a guardian appointed by the court.
Probate has a bad reputation and is often described as a proceeding that is to be avoided at all costs. It is true that when someone dies without an estate plan in place and therefore, by default most of their assets fall into a probate proceeding, the probate proceeding can be unnecessarily expensive and time consuming. However, when incorporated into a well designed estate plan, probate can have a positive role to play.
“Does it avoid probate?” That is an important question to ask when evaluating ideas for how to leave assets to your beneficiaries. However, does avoiding probate automatically make it the best idea for your family? Is it necessary for every asset to avoid the probate process? Are there any advantages to having some assets go through probate?
The homestead is the house that the couple lives in as the marital home. It doesn’t matter that only one of the spouse’s names is on the title to the marital home, the homestead rights still attach to the property. The homestead rights are designed to make sure that the surviving spouse does not suddenly lose his or her home upon the death of the first spouse. However, in second marriage situations, sometimes this protection for the surviving spouse is a surprise and upsets the estate planning goals of both spouses.