POWER OF ATTORNEY
“Power of Attorney” is a document that gives the right to someone you trust to take action on your behalf with respect to your financial and administrative affairs. The appointed attorney-in-fact may take affirmative action on your behalf. Florida used to allow springing powers of attorney, which rendered the designated attorney-in-fact powerless until the principal was determined to lack capacity. Unfortunately, Florida no longer permits springing power of attorneys (thank banking lobbyists) so you should exercise caution in choosing who you wish to appoint. Why? Because they have the power to take action on your behalf from the moment it’s executed. Nevertheless, a power of attorney is an essential document in a carefully crafted estate plan.
HEALTH CARE SURROGATE
A “Health Care Surrogate” A/K/A “Health Care Proxy” designates another person to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make them yourself. It’s like a health care power of attorney. Again, you need to be cautious and choose someone you trust.
A living will does not appoint anyone. It simply expresses your wishes and desires with respect to keeping you alive artificially while in a persistent vegetative state. In this regard, think back to the sad case of Terri Shiavo, which touched the heart of all Americans. She didn’t express her wishes by executing a simple living will. As a result, her husband and family fought over the decision while she remained in a persistent vegetative state for years.
These documents will generally be included in a properly crafted estate plan.