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By: Rebecca L. Nichols, Esq.

Published at

16 February 2024

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Durable Power of Attorney. Top 5 Reasons Why Everyone Need It!

If you plan for only tomorrow and the next day, you plan for a small account but if you plan for the future, you plan for a whole lifetime.

Dr. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist

Everyone knows they should have certain documentation in place, such as a living will, last will, and a power of attorney. What they don't know is that there are several benefits associated with having a comprehensive, thorough durable power of attorney prepared by a licensed estate planning attorney.

Throughout our practice, we see general powers of attorney that are not highly detailed, and while well-intentioned, these documents can potentially cause our clients more harm than good.

This blog aims to discuss the benefits of a detailed power of attorney and emphasize the need for legal advice for durable power of attorney from an experienced estate planning attorney in having the document prepared.

Florida Durable Power of Attorney Basics:

But first, let's go over the basics. A Durable Power of Attorney is an important legal document by which you, as the "principal," authorize another individual, the "agent-in-fact or attorney-in-fact" to step into your shoes and transact your personal and business affairs during your lifetime without court supervision or approval.

The person you appoint as your attorney-in-fact or agent should be someone you trust completely.

Your attorney-in-fact will have the power to withdraw money from your bank accounts or brokerage accounts, mortgage or transfer your real and personal property, and take other actions that could be devastating financially. 

In Florida, the powers granted in your durable power of attorney will be effective the moment you sign the document and will continue to exist during your lifetime. Unless you revoke or terminate the durable power of attorney in a written instrument executed with the same formalities as the original instrument.

You retain the right to modify, revoke, or terminate your durable power of attorney at any time, provided you have the required legal capacity.

Any powers granted by your durable power of attorney terminate automatically upon your death. Now that you understand the basics of a Durable Power of Attorney, let's move on to the top 5 reasons everyone needs one.

1. A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to choose who will make decisions for you.

If you have already signed a durable power of attorney and you later become incapacitated, the individual named in your document can step into your shoes and make financial decisions on your behalf. If you do not have a properly drafted durable power of attorney in place, a costly and slow-moving guardianship proceeding may become necessary.

2. A Durable Power of Attorney avoids the necessity of guardianship.

If you were to become incapacitated without having a properly drafted power of attorney in place, a guardianship proceeding becomes necessary to ensure your financial and medical affairs are taken care of. In a guardianship proceeding, the court will choose who will be appointed to manage your affairs. Not only is this individual ultimately selected by the Judge, but the court will continue monitoring the situation for the remainder of your life and or incapacity. Guardianships are costly and time-consuming, as the reporting requirements continue until your death.

3. A Durable Power of Attorney can create a setting for you to discuss your wishes with family members or loved ones.

As you can see, selecting an appropriate agent to serve as a durable power of attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make concerning your estate plan. Having a durable power of attorney prepared by an experienced Florida estate planning attorney also provides you with an opportunity to discuss your desires and wishes with the agent or attorney-in-fact while you still have full capacity. Discussing these matters and setting your expectations can help put your mind at ease.

4. A Durable Power of Attorney can reduce questions concerning your intentions and provide peace of mind for all involved.

Oftentimes, court battles over an individual's intent break out once that individual becomes incapacitated. A well-drafted, comprehensive durable power of attorney serves as evidence of your intentions and makes disputes concerning the same more difficult. A comprehensive, well-drafted estate plan, including a durable power of attorney, can eliminate potential disputes and help preserve familial relationships. Not only does an effective estate plan reduce the burden on family members and loved ones, but it can also provide great comfort in knowing these legal requirements for a durable power of attorney have been taken care of in advance.

5. A Durable Power of Attorney should meet your needs, present and future.

Needs to change as you age. For instance, in this day and age, many seniors consider applying for government benefits to pay for their long-term care. Individuals are only eligible for government benefits if they meet certain asset and income requirements. Taking legal steps to qualify for this aid, also known as "Asset Protection Planning" or "Medicaid Planning," may become necessary and special powers must be designated within your durable power of attorney by initialing each provision. You'll want to make sure your durable power of attorney authorizes your agent to perform steps necessary for your particular situation without delay. It is important to provide planning options for your agent within your durable power of attorney document.

Conclusion

In conclusion, everyone should consider a durable power of attorney and the benefits associated with a well-drafted Durable Power of Attorney are significant. A comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney is an important component of your estate plan because nobody can predict the future, nor does anyone know exactly what powers may become necessary. Schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our experienced estate and incapacity planning attorneys today by calling +1 352-600-2987 or emailing us at contact@e-estatesandtrusts.com.

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