I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about Durable Powers of Attorney and why your college bound child needs one. To this day, it is a very popular post. I receive many questions about Florida Durable Powers of Attorney on a regular basis. So, this year, I thought I would write a blog post each month about different aspects of Durable Powers of Attorney so that those who follow my posts have a place to go to learn more about this topic.
Do you have Florida Durable Powers of Attorney in place? Do you even know what that is? You may think you know, or you may be familiar with the term, but chances are, you do not have a complete understanding of something which is so important.
Let me start by telling you what a Durable Power of Attorney (“DPOA”) is not. A DPOA is not the same as a living will or healthcare surrogate designation (although, a healthcare surrogate designation may be stated in the same document). A DPOA is not the same as a Last Will and Testament which is a document that takes effect at your death and lets everyone know who you want to administer your estate and who you want to have the estate.
Florida Durable Powers of Attorney (“DPOA”) is a document that you sign giving another person the ability to act on your behalf. That person is known as your “agent”. These powers can be the ability to do banking for you (write checks, make deposits, withdraw money, etc.), the power to sell real estate, and even the power to change beneficiaries on your investment accounts or life insurance. The DPOA can have all of these powers, or just some of these powers. It can be whatever you want it to be.
The DPOA is effective the minute you sign it. Some states differ as to when a DPOA is effective. Florida used to allow “springing powers of attorney” meaning the DPOA would only take effect when you become incapacitated. Florida did away with springing powers of attorney on October 1, 2011. This means that after 10/1/11, you cannot state in your DPOA that you want it to be effective only you’re your incapacity. However, those that had springing DPOA’s prior to the law change are in luck because their DPOA’s are still effective.
The one thing you should be really careful about is who you appoint. Why should you be careful? Whomever you appoint steps into your shoes and can do whatever you can do. Your agent can do whatever the powers are that you have given them in the DPOA – the power to sell real estate or personal property, the power to empty out a bank account, the power to change the beneficiary on a life insurance policy.
This is the first installment of a monthly installment that I will write for 2014 about Durable Powers of Attorney. If you have a specific question you would like me to address, please feel free to contact me.