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Use power of attorney to avoid conservatorship

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2023 | Firm News |

Think, for a moment, about the people in your life whom you trust the most. Perhaps your spouse or an adult son or daughter comes to mind. You might have a Florida business partner or long-time friend who is trustworthy. As most people might be able to relate, you no doubt also have people in your life you do not trust. Sadly, some of them might be immediate family members or close relatives. Would you want them to be your conservator if you become incapacitated? 

If you’re no longer able to think or act in a coherent manner to make financial, business or medical decisions (due to incapacitation), the court may appoint someone to do so on your behalf. This person would have first filed a petition, which would activate a hearing, possibly resulting in an appointment. To avoid having someone you don’t trust manage your assets and health decisions, you can execute a power of attorney (POA) while you are of sound mind. 

You can cancel a durable power of attorney 

If you incorporate a durable power of attorney into your estate plan, you authorize another person or group to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and unable to do so. A durable POA typically remains in effect until you die or until you cancel it, which, of course, you must demonstrate soundness of mind to do.  

On the other hand, it is not as easy to dismiss a conservatorship as there must be a court hearing. It’s also possible that a person may be involuntarily committed to a conservatorship. If someone has petitioned the court to act as your conservator, and you believe you are sound in mind, you can contest the petition. However, there would also need to be a court hearing in this instance, as well.  

Executing a solid estate plan helps avoid conservatorship 

If you craft a solid estate plan that includes powers of attorney, you may be able to avoid a conservatorship with a judge giving someone you do not trust the authority to manage your assets and health. A Florida estate plan can be basic and simple or complex, depending on your needs.  

It’s helpful to seek guidance and support throughout the estate planning process, especially if you hope to use powers of attorney to avoid conservatorship. It’s also wise to periodically review your estate plan to check whether any additions, deletions or updates are necessary. One of the greatest benefits of such plans is having the ability to choose your own representatives rather than having a judge appoint someone on your behalf.