Creating a durable power of attorney is something that most people do when they create an estate plan in Florida. However, not many people understand what a power of attorney is or why it’s important.
Always be sure to ask your estate planning lawyer any questions you have about these important documents before you agree to them or sign anything. You want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re doing when you create a durable power of attorney in Florida, and why. Here are some basic facts you should know.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document. This document states your desire to appoint someone as your representative. That representative, called an agent or an attorney-in-fact, gains the ability to represent your interests and make decisions on your behalf. Depending on the conditions you place in the document, your agent can negotiate contracts with third parties, buy or sell property on your behalf, or make other decisions for you.
Durable Power of Attorney
Your ability to create a power of attorney rests on your ability to make choices. Most adults are mentally sound and are capable of making choices. This ability allows you to name someone who will represent your interests through a power of attorney.
However, your agent’s ability to make choices for you rests on your ability to do the same. Should you lose your abilities to make choices, become incapacitated, or are no longer of sound mind, your agent loses his or her abilities as well.
However, this automatic termination of an agent’s authority does not apply if you create a durable power of attorney. Through a durable power, your agent’s decision-making ability endures even after you become incapacitated.
Durable Powers and Your Estate Plan
The reason durable powers of attorney play such an important role in estate planning is because they allow you to protect your interests should you become incapacitated.
For example, let’s say you have a last will and testament that names an executor who will manage your estate after you die. But what happens if you become seriously ill or injured? Though your executor will take over your affairs once you are gone, who will do so if you are no longer able to care for yourself?
That’s where durable powers of attorney come into play. Through these documents you can name someone who will manage your affairs for you when you cannot. Your agent can manage your property, your finances, and can even make medical decisions for you.
As long as you ensure that the durable power of attorney document complies with Florida law, you can grant your age and the ability to do almost anything.