Incorporating a power of attorney into your Florida estate plan is a crucial step. In fact, many people create more than one power of attorney because these documents are so important and useful.
But creating the proper power of attorney in Florida is about a lot more than ensuring that your document meets the basic legal requirements. In recent years many states, including Florida, have adopted laws that have changed how powers of attorney are used. State lawmakers have created these laws primarily because of serious problems that have allowed people to take advantage of their position when granted decision-making abilities under power of attorney. In some situations, people named as an agent have abused their authority to commit elder abuse against those who place them in their positions of trust.
Having a power of attorney that not only ensures that your interests will be protected, as well as one that protects you against wrongdoing is a process that requires careful thought. Your estate planning lawyer will guide you through all the steps you need to go through, as well as point out why the individual pieces you include in your power of attorney are important. Until then, here are several considerations you’ll want to think about when deciding on your power of attorney.
Power of Attorney Creation
The best power of attorney is one you create when you are in good health and are fully capable of making reasonable decisions. Some people have experienced problems with powers of attorney because they created the document when they weren’t fully capable. If you wait too long and, for example, create these documents after suffering a decline in health, this could lead to an abuse of power.
Granting powers of attorney that are too broad can also lead to problems in some situations. You might want to consider imposing limitations on the authority you grant your agent. For example, if you give your agent the ability to use your accounts to pay bills or other expenses, consider him placing a maximum expenditure limit on any payments.
Some people use power of attorneys to allow their agents to make gifts to others. You can do this for a number of reasons, but allowing your agent to give gifts as a way to limit your exposure to estate taxes is common. If you want your agent to have this power, you need to specifically include it in your power of attorney and make sure you state how much the agent is authorized to give.
Of course, there are other steps you can take to help make as strong a power of attorney as possible. Schedule an appointment with your estate planning lawyer as soon as possible, especially if it has been some time since you updated these important documents. Keeping your documents up to date and in accordance with your wishes is the best way to ensure that they will not cause you problems down the road.