The Importance Of Having A Power Of Attorney As You Age

Our ability to take care of ourselves, and make good decisions regarding our well-being, can diminish as we get older. 

In the event of a mental disability, it is very important to have power of attorney for both financial and healthcare decision-making as you age. To answer your questions and figure out where to start, a certified elder law attorney can help you with this.

What Is A Power Of Attorney?

A power of attorney is an instrument that allows you, as the principal, to appoint an agent (also known as an attorney in fact) for the purpose of acting on your behalf.  A power of attorney can be for financial and legal decision-making as well as for healthcare-related decisions.  

In Florida, a financial power of attorney becomes effective right after you sign it. As a result, you should only choose those you trust and who will act in your best interest.  But, if you are setting up a healthcare power of attorney, then that instrument can become effective when you can no longer make your own healthcare decisions.

Why Is It Important To Have A Power Of Attorney As You Age?

A power of attorney offers a variety of benefits, not the least of which is to avoid forced guardianship if you become unable to make your own financial and healthcare-related decisions.  You should review all of the pros and cons of a power of attorney with a qualified legal professional to make sure a power of attorney is right for you. 

You Can Protect Your Assets

Your agent under a power of attorney must act in your best interest. By acting in your best interest, this individual must:

  • Preserve your estate plan.
  • Act in good faith.
  • Act solely for your benefit

These duties can protect your assets in the event that you are unable to act on your own behalf.  By protecting and preserving your assets, you can ensure those assets remain for you and your intended beneficiaries.

Avoids The Appointment Of A Guardian

If you don’t have a valid power of attorney and you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself, a Florida court may need to appoint a guardian on your behalf.  A guardianship is equivalent to a lawsuit your family files against you, you get to pay for it,  and you lose.  

Ultimately, a guardian may be appointed to make financial and legal decisions for you – a guardian of your property- and a guardian may be appointed to make healthcare decisions for you – a guardian of your person.  The process of appointing a guardian can be long, complex, and expensive. But, more importantly, you may not be able to choose who is appointed as your guardian.

You can avoid guardianship with a properly executed and valid financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.  Discuss your estate planning needs today with a certified elder law attorney

You Can Clarify Your Medical Care Needs

To ensure your medical care needs and/or wants are met, you can clarify your desires with a healthcare power of attorney.  A healthcare power of attorney allows you to appoint those persons you trust for the purpose of making healthcare decisions on your behalf.  

If you don’t have a valid healthcare power of attorney, or if you experience a medical crisis, a guardian may have to be appointed on your behalf.  These persons may not be aware of your desires related to your long-term healthcare needs.  

You Will Have Peace Of Mind

If you are unable to make your financial and health care decisions, a valid power of attorney allows your trusted friends and family to make decisions for you.  This can serve to give you peace of mind, ensuring that your desires and wishes are met. 

Hoyt & Bryan Can Help Today

A comprehensive estate plan that includes financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney is a must for all people.  If your estate plan has not been reviewed in the last two to three years, speak to one of our qualified estate planning and elder law attorneys today!  Check out our website at to attend one of our estate planning workshops or call our office at 407-977-8080 to schedule your appointment today!



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