One of the best things you can do in the estate planning process is to educate yourself about powers of attorney, wills, and all the other estate planning tools that you will use. Your estate planning lawyer will be there to guide you through the planning process by advising you about your options and telling you what works best in your situation. However, the ultimate choices always remain up to you. In order to make a good decision you will want to know what each of your tools does, how it benefits you, and what options you have. To understand why you will use both powers of attorney and a will in your estate plan, here are some important ideas you should know.
Powers of Attorney and Agents
If you create a power of attorney you get to choose an agent who can make decisions for you. Your agent will represent your interests in whatever capacity you deem appropriate. Whether you choose to give that agent the power to represent you immediately, or only after you have become incapacitated, is entirely up to you.
When most people create a power of attorney they choose someone close to them as their representative. This representative, called an agent or an attorney-in-fact, will serve as long as you like. If you later want to appoint other agents, or alter the power you have already granted an agent, you can do that.
Should you give an agent the ability to represent you, that agent’s authority will automatically end after you die. Your agent cannot, for example, represent your estate in probate.
Representatives and Wills
Though your will is a document through which you can dictate your inheritance choices, it also affords you the right to appoint another representative. After you die, a Florida court will have to determine if the will you left behind meets relevant legal standards. As long as it’s legally valid, the court will accept it as your last wishes.
One of these terms will name an executor. The executor’s responsibility is to manage your estate through the probate process, and to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Like an agent, the executor is someone you can choose. However, the executor’s duties only begin after your death. An agent under a power of attorney, on the other hand, is only capable of representing you while you are still alive.
Multiple Documents, Single Representative
If you want the same person to act as your executor and your agent under power of attorney, you are free to make this decision. In order to make sure this happens, you will simply have to name that person in both documents and ensure that both documents comply with Florida law.