It is always better to plan ahead, but if a person becomes incapacitated before appointing an agent to make decisions for them by executing a Financial Power of Attorney, Heath Care Surrogate Designation, and Living Will, the court must appoint a guardian. The Baby Boomers' Barrister will guide you through the stressful guardianship process.
A guardian's authority can be limited or quite broad. In a court-ordered guardianship proceeding, the judge will decide the extent of the guardian's authority, and who the guardian will be.
We can represent the alleged incapacitated person or the family in a guardianship proceeding and advise the court on the person best suited to act as a guardian. Contact us today to learn how a guardianship attorney can represent you and your family in a court-controlled guardianship process in St. Petersburg, FL & Tampa, FL.
Imagine it's a bright spring morning in Tampa and you are out for a bike ride down Bay Shore Boulevard. You are riding along, enjoying the view of Tampa Bay and the beautiful weather. You stay fit and are used to riding this route. You got a good night's sleep and are feeling great.
All of a sudden, the unexpected happens. Somebody steps in your path. You swerve to avoid them but hit the balustrade. On the way down, you hit the back of your head on the concrete and are lying flat on your back. Onlookers are shocked. You are unresponsive. Someone calls 911. An ambulance arrives and you are taken to Tampa General Hospital, which is right down the road.
You need treatment, but you cannot give consent. What happens?
Florida law (Florida Statute 765.401) provides that the following persons, in order of priority, can consent to treatment for an incapacitated adult:
1. The judicially appointed guardian of the patient;
2. The patient's spouse;
3. An adult child of the patient, or if the patient has more than one adult child, a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation;
4. A parent of the patient;
5. The adult sibling of the patient or, if the patient has more than one sibling, a majority of the adult siblings who are reasonably available for consultation;
6. An adult relative of the patient who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who has maintained regular contact with the patient and who is familiar with the patient's activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs;
7. A close friend of the patient;
8. A clinical social worker.
If you do not want your healthcare decisions to be made by someone appointed by the state, you can designate your own decision maker, or Agent. You do this by executing a Health Care Surrogate Designation. You decide who will make heath care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own. You can appoint a primary Agent and also alternate Agent as a health care surrogate if your first choice is not willing or able to act.
Attorneys at the Baby Boomers' Barrister can help you prepare for the unexpected. Give us a call today to speak with a health care surrogate attorney.
Simply put, a Power of Attorney is a legal document that specifies certain things that you have given an Agent authority to do on your behalf. You need one if something needs to be done and you are unable to do it. Suppose you want to buy a car and there is an excellent deal at a certain car dealer in St. Petersburg that expires at the end of the month. You are out of town and need to have a friend complete the transaction on your behalf. You can appoint your friend as the agent under your Power of Attorney and give him the authority to buy the car, pay for it, and register it in your name.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a critical estate planning tool that allows you to plan for potential incapacity. You have an opportunity to appoint someone ahead of time to make financial decisions on your behalf if you have an accident, suffer from dementia, have a stroke, or some other circumstance renders you unable to conduct financial business yourself.
If you wait to develop a Power of Attorney until you need one, it is too late - because you must be of sound mind to execute one. The alternative to a Power of Attorney is a Court supervised guardianship. Someone petitions the Court to declare you incompetent and then petitions the Court to appoint a guardian to make decisions for you. A guardianship proceeding is expensive, takes a long time and is a huge burden when you and your loved ones least need one. Additionally, the Court decides who will make decisions for you rather than you deciding beforehand.
A traditional Power of Attorney is only valid when the principal is mentally competent. A Durable Power of Attorney includes a provision that allows it to endure the principal's mental incompetence.
Florida law concerning Powers of Attorney changed significantly in 2011. Prior to that, it was sufficient to have a very simple Power of Attorney that contained a provision saying something like, "I give my agent to the power to do anything I could do." Powers of Attorney were no more than three or four pages long. Now, every power you want to give your agent must be specifically articulated in the document. If it's not spelled out, the agent does not have that power. Because it is very difficult to imagine today what your agent might need to do in the future when acting in your best interests, many Powers of Attorney are very broad and anticipate any possible scenario. This is good, but also requires that you pick your agent very carefully. This is because the document is effective as soon as you sign it and the Agent can use it to steal your blind.
The Baby Boomers' Barrister, with offices in St. Petersburg, FL & Tampa, FL, can help you design and draft the Power of Attorney that is right for you.