Is it Time to Update Your Advance Directives?
Advance directives like living wills and powers of attorney are an essential part of any estate plan. Should you become incapacitated, you will need someone to manage your finances and make healthcare decisions for you. However, many people fail to update their advance directives as circumstances change, and as a result they are not as protected as they should be.
Revise Advance Directives after Marriage
Marriage is a critical landmark in a person’s life, and many people remember to revise a will afterwards. However, they often forget to take the time to revise advance directives. Find the following and check if you need to make changes:
- Your living will. This document explains what care you want if you become incapacitated.
- Designation of health care surrogate. This document names a surrogate (an agent) to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated.
- Durable financial power of attorney. This document identifies the agent who can make financial decisions in the event you are incapacitated.
After marriage, you probably want your spouse to act as your surrogate or agent to make financial and medical decisions in the event you are incapacitated. You will need to revise your advance directives so that they will have that power.
Conversely, if you get divorced, you should review your advance directives as well. Florida statute § 709.2109(2)(b) provides that simply filing for divorce terminates your spouse’s authority. In that case, you will need to name a new surrogate/agent.
Revisit Advance Directives if an Agent Moves, or if You Move
Having an agent who lives far away is not ideal. Consider the following:
You suffer a devastating car accident and slip into a coma. You need someone to make medical decisions for you at this critical time, but your agent actually lives three states over and can only reach doctors by phone.
Is this ideal? No. Instead, you should have an agent who lives near you so that they can be at the hospital when medical decisions need to be made.
Remember, you can replace an agent now without them needing to agree. Choose someone who lives near you.
Revise Advance Directives if an Agent Dies
If your agent passes before you do, you obviously have a problem. Although you have the right to name an alternate, the chances are you might have forgotten to. Now is the time to name both a new agent as well as an alternate who can step in, if necessary. Remember to talk to them before naming them and check if they are willing to serve. You should also have a discussion about your preferences for treatment. After revising your advance directives, make sure your agents receive copies. They should also have a copy of your most recent living will.
Consult with an Elder Law Attorney at The Villages
Under Florida law, you can revise an advance directive at any time. To make sure any changes are legal and will withstand a challenge in court, you should work closely with an attorney at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group.
We offer a free consultation where we can answer any of your questions. To schedule yours, please call or send us a message.