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The Most Important Estate Planning Tool To Have in 2023 | Miller Elder Law Firm | Shannon Miller
As you get older, it’s important to start thinking about your estate planning. This is the process of making sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. 

Durable Power Of Attorney-What Is It?

The most important estate planning tool, without question, is the durable power of attorney. It is critical because 80% of the population over age 70 will become incapacitated before they die and that means they will not be able to manage their finances without someone’s help.

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This could happen if you have a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or another illness that prevents you from making your own decisions.

Avoiding Guardianship

If there is no durable power of attorney, you will have to establish a guardianship. Nobody likes guardianships, we actually hate them; this includes attorneys, judges, families, guardians, and the incapacitated one. But if you do not have advanced planning, it’s the only way to protect you.

The durable power of attorney should be specific about the powers that you are giving to your agent. You can give your agent the authority to make all financial decisions on your behalf, or you can limit their authority to certain tasks, such as paying bills or selling real estate.

It’s important to update your durable power of attorney if you change your mind about who you want to be your agent or if you want to change the powers that you are giving to your agent.

A durable power of attorney is an important estate planning tool that can give you peace of mind knowing that you or your loved ones will be taken care of if you become incapacitated.

Durable Power Of Attorney Benefits

  • It can help to avoid a guardianship or conservatorship.
  • It can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out, even if you are unable to communicate them.
  • It can help to protect your assets from being lost or stolen.
  • It can help to reduce stress and anxiety for your loved ones.

Other Important Estate Planning Tips

If you have a house, it can be passed on death by using the enhanced life estate deed (in Florida) which also allows you to quality for Medicaid. Your other assets, like retirement assets, need to have a beneficiary AND a contingent beneficiary (in case both spouses die). Also do this for bank accounts-have a pay on death beneficiary. 

Important statistic for planning: If you are in a long term marriage, when one spouse dies, there’s a 50% chance the surviving spouse will die in first year. Plan for this to help you avoid probate. If you want to do a will or trust as a safety net, we can take care of that for you. Trusts are mainly for high asset owners, those in second marriages or parents with a special needs child or children that have come upon hard times. 

How To Create A Durable Power Of Attorney

Our elder law attorney team would be happy to help you sort through these estate planning decisions. Call our office at 352.379-1900 and we can set up an appointment with one of our elder law attorneys.
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