A properly drafted Florida Durable Power of Attorney permits you (“the Principal”) to appoint a trusted person (“the Agent”) to act on your behalf on financial matters. A Durable Power of Attorney can be drafted to allow an agent to carry out very specific powers or alternatively be more in general in nature allowing your agent to manage your brokerage and bank accounts, real estate, insurance transactions, taxes, and other financial matters. The “Durable” in Power of Attorney means that the document continues to be effective upon the principal becoming incapacitated.
One of the most common misconceptions about a Florida Durable Power of Attorney is that it only “springs” into action when the principal becomes incapacitated. This common belief makes perfect sense. The truth is for most people that is exactly when you would want someone else to have these important powers. However, in 2011, the Florida legislature changed the law on POAs and now, “…a power of attorney is ineffective if the power of attorney provides that it is to become effective at a future date or upon the occurrence of a future event or contingency.” (See Florida Statute 709.2108 (3)). So, it is important to understand that as soon as you sign a Durable Power of Attorney all the powers listed on the document go into effect immediately and not upon your incapacity.
So, what factors should you consider in determining whether to execute a Durable Power of Attorney in Florida?
- Do you have someone you trust to grant these powers? In other words, are you concerned that if you give a person this authority your hard-earned money could end up in Vegas at a roulette table? If you paused for a second a Durable Power of Attorney in Florida may not be right for you.
- Do you understand all the powers you are giving to someone under your Durable Power of Attorney? It is important to discuss this document with an estate planning and probate attorney.
If you decide to move forward in a Durable Power of Attorney you can take comfort in knowing that a Durable Power of Attorney can avoid Florida court proceedings, like probate and guardianships, and save you and your family time and money in handing your financial affairs.
If you have any question regarding a Durable Power of Attorney in Florida do not hesitate to reach out to Jason Siegel, Esq. at (561) 284-1160.