A Florida estate planning attorney at Kramer Green can help you create a comprehensive estate plan for you and your family, including a durable power of attorney under Florida Statutes § 709.2101 et seq. We can help you determine what your objectives are for your estate plan and how to meet those goals during the estate planning process.
Although powers of attorney are fundamental to any estate plan, many people have misconceptions about how these legal documents work. To help you better understand durable powers of attorney, we have compiled some of the most common misunderstandings about a durable power of attorney (POA) in Florida.
A Durable Power of Attorney Lasts Forever, Even After Death.
One of the most common misconceptions is that a power of attorney lasts beyond death, thus eliminating the need for a will or other estate planning documents. However, the legal authority contained in a power of attorney ceases when a person passes away. Once the principal, or the person who signed a power of attorney, passes away, the agent, or the person whom the principal has named as his or her power of attorney, no longer has any legal authority to act on his or her behalf.
I Only Need to Pick One Person to Act as My Power of Attorney.
While you can choose only one person to act as your power of attorney, you should choose at least one, or perhaps two, alternates to serve as your power of attorney. Having alternates in place can eliminate problems if your first choice of power of attorney passes away or becomes incapacitated and thus unable to serve as your power of attorney. If you don’t have an alternate in place and your chosen power of attorney is deceased or incapacitated, your family members would have to obtain legal guardianship to make decisions on your behalf, which is a much more complex, time-consuming, and expensive process.
I Won’t Have to Update My Power of Attorney.
You should periodically review your durable power of attorney and entire estate plan to see if you want to make any changes. For instance, the person you have chosen as your power of attorney or alternate may have passed away or become incapacitated. For various reasons, you may no longer wish the person you have chosen in your power of attorney to act on your behalf. In any case, you must ensure that your power of attorney reflects your true wishes.
I Don’t Need an Attorney to Sign a Power of Attorney.
While it is tempting to save a few dollars and fill out a generic POA form that you can find online, doing so is not a good idea. First, generic forms are not likely to follow the intricacies of Florida law and may leave out important provisions that render your agent unable to handle some of your affairs. You also need an estate planning attorney to ensure that you understand all provisions in the durable power of attorney document and that you want your chosen agent to be able to exercise all those powers on your behalf.
A POA is the Same Thing as a Living Will.
A living will address only limited decisions about your end-of-life care. While it allows you to make important decisions on those issues, it does not allow you to designate a person to handle your financial affairs. Likewise, executing a healthcare surrogate gives another person the power to make healthcare decisions for you but usually does not address any decisions beyond those related to your healthcare. Therefore, you need a power of attorney to designate a person to handle decisions on your behalf that are unrelated to your healthcare needs.
Look to Kramer Green for Help with Your Estate Plan
As your family grows, a Florida estate planning lawyer at Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. is prepared to assist you as you review and update or create your estate plan for the first time. We know how to structure your estate plan to preserve your assets and relieve your loved ones of the burdens of complex probate and estate issues to the greatest extent possible. We also are skilled in helping you carry out your wishes for your estate, including maximizing protections for your surviving family members.
Our objective is to guide you through the complex legal matters that estate planning can involve. Contact our office today at (954) 966-2112 or online to schedule a time to discuss your estate planning issues with our estate planning attorney.