If you’ve spent any amount of time looking into estate planning, you’ve likely come across the term “durable power of attorney.” In this article, we’ll look at what durable power of attorney is, why you need it, and how to include it in your estate planning.
Durable Power of Attorney Defined
A durable power of attorney authorizes someone to act in a wide range of legal and business matters. The document is also known as a durable power of attorney for finances and under current Florida law must take effect immediately. Pre-2011 powers of attorney may have been appropriately drafted to take effect only if you are incapacitated. However, the advantages of a post-2011 power of attorney in full conformity with the Florida law are very significant.
LegalZoom notes that the purpose of durable power of attorney is to plan for medical emergencies, cognitive decline later in life, or other situations where you’re no longer capable of making financial and legal decisions.
It’s important to note the difference between an ordinary power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. The former will expire if you become mentally incapacitated, while the effectiveness of the latter is durable through any future incapacitation.
The person you appoint is known as your agent, or attorney-in-fact, although the individual or company doesn’t have to be a lawyer. In fact, the person appointed does not have to be a relative. However, you should very carefully choose the person appointed because it is a very powerful document.
You might also want to consider a healthcare power of attorney. Generally in Florida we use instead a designation of health care surrogate. This document names someone to make medical decisions any time you are unable to do it yourself, even if you are expected to make a full recovery and generally is talking about more routine health care decisions you are unable to make yourself. Such a document differs somewhat from a living will, which details the treatment you want if you are at the end of your life and can no longer communicate.
Why You Might Need these advanced directives
A durable healthcare power of attorney or health care surrogate designation is useful when a medical emergency leaves you unconscious or otherwise unable to make choices about your care. It appoints someone else to communicate with doctors and make medical decisions for you.
A durable power of attorney for legal and financial issues can handle many types of transactions, including:
- Buying and selling property
- Managing bank accounts, bills, and investments
- Filing tax returns
- Applying for government benefits
How to Include Durable Power of Attorney in Your Estate Plan
While you can find DIY durable power of attorney forms online, it’s helpful to talk to an attorney so they can recommend the documents that will work best for your particular needs. As a general rule, elder law attorneys naturally work more with the use of powers of attorney when the grantors health has declined and long-term care planning is necessary. It is many times at this point that it is critical to have a robust power of attorney in full compliance with the Florida law.
Can You Remove Power of Attorney?
As long as you’re mentally competent, you can revoke your power of attorney at any time. The revocation should be done in writing. If you aren’t authorized to revoke a loved one’s power of attorney but you feel that the authority is being abused, contact an elder law attorney right away and/or contact the statewide Elder abuse hotline.
Are you looking to create an estate plan that can hold up to the unexpected twists and turns of life? We’re here to help. We offer video call consultations for your convenience, so why wait to get started? Contact our Ft. Pierce office at 772-828-2588 or online.
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