Before snowbirds begin their seasonal journey to warmer climates, it’s time to be sure that they have the important legal documents in place, advises LimaOhio.com in a recent article “Different seasons and documents, same peace of mind.” One of the most important documents that everyone should have is a healthcare power of attorney, and it should be prepared and be ready to be used at any time.
These documents name another person to make healthcare decisions, in case you are not able to make those decisions for yourself. We never think that anything will really happen to us, until it does. Having this document properly prepared and easily accessible helps our loved ones. They are the ones who will need the powers given by the document. Without it, they cannot act in a timely manner.
If traveling between a home state and a winter home, it is wise to have a set of documents that align with the laws of both states. It may be necessary to have a separate set of documents for each state, if the laws differ.
Healthcare powers of attorney typically need updating about every five years. The law has changed in recent years in Florida, and there are some specific powers that need to be stated precisely, so that the document can be used if needed.
If a healthcare power of attorney is not in place when it’s needed, the only way that someone else can make decisions for you, is to become your guardian. Guardianship takes considerably more time and costs more than preparing the document ahead of time. It should also be noted that once guardianship is established, the person who is the guardian will need to report to the court on a regular basis.
Another document that needs to be in place is a living will or advance directive. This is a document prepared to instruct others as to your wishes for end-of-life care. The document is created when a person is mentally competent and expresses their wishes for what they want to happen, if they are being kept alive by artificial means. For loved ones, this document is a blessing, as it lets them know very clearly what their family members wishes are.
Peace of mind is a wonderful thing to take with you as you prepare for a warm winter in a different climate. Talk with an estate planning attorney to be sure that your estate planning documents will be acceptable in your winter home.
Reference: LimaOhio.com (Oct. 26, 2019) “Different seasons and documents, same peace of mind”