Communicating your intentions clearly and to the correct people is important, whether you are making a lane change while riding a bicycle or designating someone to speak on your behalf.
Studies have shown that 55% of our communication comes from non-verbal cues (visual) and 38% comes from the tone we choose (vocal), while only 7% comes from the actual words we choose (verbal). Yet, much of what we communicate is through only written words. This is of particular importance when we are communicating our final intentions. So, make sure that you have taken the time to record your intentions with proper legal documents written by an attorney. Additionally, both share and discuss these important documents with everyone involved:
Health Care Surrogate: This document designates the person that is both willing and able to make tough decisions about your medical care when you are unable. Make sure this person knows you and your intentions and make sure they know something about your medical situation before they must act.
Living Will: This document defines how you want to be treated in very specific medical situations. If you do not want extreme measures taken to keep you alive, you need this document.
Power of Attorney: This document defines who can act on your behalf in financial matters. It is important to note that you do not have to be incapacitated for them to act under this power, so be careful whom you choose. They can buy/sell property, write checks, withdraw funds, close accounts, etc. This needs to be someone you trust and the designation should be shared with those that may receive instructions from the designated power holder.
Will: This document states how you want your estate distributed. As a Florida resident, your personal representative (Executor) must be a Florida resident – unless it is a family member. If you have an older and/or out of state document, have it reviewed by a Florida attorney to be sure it will serve your needs.
Trust: This document holds property and designates how your affairs are to be managed. While a will gives instructions for after you are gone, a trust works both while you are alive and after you have passed. Trusts afford a wide latitude of options for the legal instructions you want undertaken on your behalf. It is this flexibility that is important in situations that involve incapacity or other special circumstances.
To be sure your wishes are properly communicated, seek proper legal advice. Also, make sure your documents are accessible by those that are named: do not leave originals in a safe deposit box where no one has access to them. If you have questions, or would like a referral to a qualified attorney, please reach me at email@example.com.
Gerry is a member of the Sumter Landing Bike Club, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor, and Principal at Sabal Trust.