Durable Powers Of Attorney And Estate Planning In Tampa, Florida
You are probably familiar with the idea of wills and trusts when it comes to estate planning. After all, we usually frame the concept of estate planning is what happens to our property when we pass on. However, just as important is what happens in the months and years leading up to the distribution of an estate.
Although we don’t like to think about it, there is always a possibility that either yourself or a loved one can become mentally incapacitated due to some health event or the aging process itself. When this happens, a person loses the ability to make crucial decisions independently. This leaves their spouse or family in a terrible predicament if the right documents aren’t available to handle a person’s affairs.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney under Florida Law?
A power of attorney is a legal document designating someone to act on your behalf. These are frequently used in real estate or other transactions where a person (the “principal”) assigns someone trustworthy (the “agent”) to sign legally binding documents for them in certain situations. The agent under a power of attorney agreement does not need to be an actual attorney – most often, this is a spouse or family member that will be available to handle these situations.
A power of attorney terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated unless it is a special kind of power of attorney known as a “durable power of attorney.” A durable power of attorney remains intact and effective even if a person becomes incapacitated. Under Florida law, a durable power of attorney must contain special wording, providing that the power survives the principal’s incapacity.
Specifically, Section 709.2104 of the Florida Statutes provides that a power of attorney document is durable if it states: “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in chapter 709, Florida Statutes,” or similar words that show the principal’s intent that the authority remains conferred in the event of incapacity.
Roles of a Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is one of the most useful estate-planning documents a person may have due to the wide-ranging authority given through such an agreement.
A durable power of attorney in Florida can, for example:
- Make bank deposits and withdrawals to your checking and savings accounts
- Manage your investments
- Pay your rent or mortgage and utilities
- Pay for lawn care and property maintenance and repairs
- Sell a home or car or other property
- Get you admitted into a nursing home or other care facility
- Apply for Medicaid, SSI or other government benefits on your behalf
- Prepare and file your taxes or hire a tax preparer to do your taxes
- Authorize medical treatments
- Provide consent or revoke consent to proceed with medical and surgical procedures
A well-drawn durable power of attorney can ensure your personal affairs are handled correctly and efficiently in the right hands. This can save headaches and money for you and your family. Most importantly, it allows your property, finances, and medical treatment to be guided by those you trust most. It can also avoid complicated, sometimes hostile disputes among family members when your loved ones should be coming together.
Having a durable power of attorney in place can also avoid the need to appoint a guardian or conservator for you and your estate in the event of incapacity. Either of these procedures can be costly and time-consuming, often to the detriment of everyone involved.
When to Obtain Legal Advice About Durable Powers of Attorney
Finding a generic, fill-in-the-blanks Power of Attorney form online isn’t hard. Whether a “template” form will fully comply with Florida law and stand up to scrutiny from a bank or medical provider is another question. To avoid problems down the road, your best bet is to have your power of attorney carefully drawn up to your specifications by a qualified legal professional. At Strategic Counsel Law Group, we have years of experience in these matters and can make sure your affairs are protected in the event of incapacity.
Contact the Tampa Estate Planning Attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group To Discuss Your Durable Power of Attorney Options
It is always hard to confront issues involving end-of-life care, or plan for a mental/physical disability that would prevent us from handling our own business. However, you will do yourself and your family a tremendous favor by discussing these plans with a trustworthy advisor. The dedicated and compassionate Tampa estate planning attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group will take the time to listen to your concerns and advise you on how to design a durable power of attorney document that will guide your loved ones in managing your care if needed.