People often put off estate planning because they don’t want to contemplate a time when they won’t be around or even a time when they won’t be able to care for themselves. By having an estate plan, however, you can take control over these things while you’re able to and have some peace of mind for the future.
In addition to naming someone to have power of attorney (POA) over your finances and your medical care if you become incapacitated and unable to make or carry out decisions for yourself, Florida law is unique in letting people name a “preneed guardian.” The law defines this as someone who will “assume the duties of guardian immediately upon an adjudication of incapacity.”
This lets people choose the person who will take responsibility for their care if they reach a point where they can no longer care for themselves. It also saves loved ones from having to petition the court for guardianship or, if you have no close family when the time comes, have someone named as guardian whom you don’t even know.
Naming your preneed guardian
People typically choose a spouse or adult child. Often, it makes sense to choose the same person you’ve given POA over your finances and health care. A preneed guardian doesn’t have to be a family member. The law requires only that they be a “competent adult.” It’s also wise to name an alternate so you don’t have to modify your estate plan if your chosen guardian passes away, moves or is otherwise unable to fulfill the responsibility.
This is a big undertaking for anyone. That’s why it’s critical that you get someone’s informed consent before you name them as your preneed guardian or alternate. It’s also wise to make sure they have access to all the information they’ll need. This includes your estate plan, or at least parts of it, and any long-term-care (LTC) insurance policy or arrangements you’ve made. It’s also a good idea to discuss your wishes with them and write down anything you want them to know. The more thoroughly you codify your wishes, the less chance there will be of conflict or uncertainty later.
It’s a lot to think about. Having an experienced estate planning professional to guide you through it will make things easier.