Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a powerful document where you appoint an agent (“attorney-in-fact”) to take care of your financial decisions during your lifetime. The fact that it is durable allows it to continue to apply even when you are incapacitated. The powers granted under the durable power of attorney end at your death. Powers typically include the able to handle finances, enter into contracts, and buy and sell property on your behalf.
This is an important tool to set up while you are healthy. Once you lose mental capacity, you can no longer create this legal document, and will instead have to petition the court for someone to act on your behalf. Petitioning the court is expensive and time consuming. If your family needs immediate access to your financial accounts, it could be months before the court considers your application to gain access. Setting up this document in advance while you are healthy will allow for a smooth transition of your financial affairs during a time of crisis. It is so much easier to set up a power of attorney while you are healthy rather than forcing your loved ones to go to court and wait months before they have access to funds.
Powers of attorney can be “springing,” meaning effective upon a certain event, such as incapacity. The state of Florida, however, does not permit springing powers of attorney. It is important that you talk with your attorney about your future plans, like retiring in Florida. You want to be sure your documents will be valid in the state where they might be used.
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