What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

Many people think that estate planning is something that should be done if you have a lot of money or are close to death.  This is not true!  Everyone needs an estate plan regardless of their age or wealth.  Three out of the four estate planning documents we commonly draft for our clients are to be used during life!

A Durable Power of Attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents.  A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an attorney-in-fact to make virtually all legal and financial decisions on your behalf.  The power takes effect immediately upon signing, meaning if you become incapacitated, your attorney-in-fact can step into your shoes and start managing your affairs without judicial approval or oversight.

What Happens if I Do Not Have a Durable Power of Attorney?

Florida Statute 709.2102 defines incapacity as “the inability of an individual to take those actions necessary to obtain, administer, and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income.”  Should you be deemed incapacitated without a valid, durable power of attorney, you will need judicial oversight of the management of your affairs.  This means that someone will have to open a guardianship proceeding on your behalf to be appointed as your guardian.  This is a costly court proceeding that could be complex and will require your court appointed guardian to report to the court regularly.  The judge will appoint a guardian to act on your behalf, and the entire process, including payment to your appointed guardian, will be paid from your assets.  The appointed guardian may not be someone you would have entrusted with power over your legal and financial decisions.

We wish to empower our clients to be proactive in planning their estates so that they have the final say on who gets to make critical legal and financial decisions on their behalf.  If you want to get your affairs in order, give us a call for a comprehensive estate planning consultation.

Disclaimer: This website and blog contain general information which is not intended to be specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, please seek advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Nothing contained on this website or blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

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