Florida Durable Power of Attorney Lawyers
Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin Counties
Your Florida Durable Power of Attorney authorizes someone (your agent, or “attorney-in-fact”) to handle your financial affairs if you cannot do so. As Florida Estate Planning Attorneys, we are experienced in this area of the law and can create a Durable Power of Attorney that suits your needs.
What Happens if I Become Disabled Without a Durable Power of Attorney?
Without a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney, your loved ones could face obstacles when they try to deal with your bank, brokerage, insurance companies, even your utility companies! You could even become the subject of a costly and intrusive court guardianship.
You can put your mind at rest by including a Durable Power of Attorney in your estate plan. That way, you will know that someone you know and trust – not the courts – will handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.
Types of Florida Durable Powers of Attorney
Florida currently recognizes two types of Durable Power of Attorney:
- Immediate Power of Attorney: Allows your agent to immediately begin handling your financial affairs.
- Springing Power of Attorney: Enables your agent to act only when you are incapacitated.
NOTE: The Florida Power of Attorney Law changed on Oct. 1, 2011. A Springing Power of Attorney executed before that date continues to be honored. However, for documents signed on and after Oct. 1, 2011, only the Immediate Power of Attorney is valid in Florida. See Legal Update.
What Powers are Conveyed To Your Agent by a Durable Power of Attorney?
Your Florida Durable Power of Attorney is a powerful legal tool, but it does not automatically give your agent the ability to do anything you could do yourself. You must identify the specific powers you want to give to your agent. These powers must be considered within the broader context and goals of your estate plan.
For example, if you anticipate doing Medicaid planning, you will likely want to empower your agent to make gifts on your behalf in order to reduce your assets and hasten your Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care. Additionally, your Durable Power of Attorney should include appropriate restrictions on your agent, so that you are protected from possible financial abuse.
Our experienced Elder Law/Estate Planning lawyers have prepared Durable Powers of Attorney for thousands of clients and will discuss your specific needs with you.
To Whom Should I Grant a Durable Power of Attorney?
We can also help you evaluate who to select as your agent. Many people believe that the person with the most financial sophistication is the best choice, but that is not always the case. It is more important that the agent be trustworthy, have common sense, and have the time required to assist you with your affairs.
Also, if you are naming co-agents, you must decide if those individuals will have the ability to act alone, or if you want them to act together. It is essential to determine whether those individuals can get along with one another.
Listen to Attorney Joseph Karp discuss Durable Powers of Attorney on the radio show, “Oh My God, I’m Getting Older and So Is My Mom!” (hosted by Scott Greenberg of ComForCare, a private home health care agency in Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Additional Disability Protections to Consider: Pros & Cons
Own Assets Jointly
Many spouses co-own assets. Many parents co-own assets with their adult children. This allows the co-owner to step in and manage the asset should you become incapacitated.
However, joint ownership is not always wise. It can present significant disadvantages for couples whose estates are taxable. And when your child is a co-owner of your asset, that asset becomes vulnerable to your child’s creditors, lawsuits, etc. We help clients by discussing potential unintended results so that they can make the decisions best for them.
A Living Trust (aka Revocable Trust or Inter-Vivos Trust) is an instrument that allows a person to appoint one or more successor trustees to manage Trust assets. But since there are other tasks that will be required beyond handling Trust assets alone – for example, dealing with your pension provider or changing your address at the post office — we always recommend that clients with a Revocable Trust also include a Durable Power of Attorney in their estate plan. Living Trusts detailed information.
We urge you to contact us to investigate the best ways to provide protection for yourself during your lifetime, and for your loved ones when you’re gone.
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