Estate Planning 101: The Powers of Attorney

When going through the estate planning process, you will likely hear about “powers of attorney” as an important part of a good plan. Having a good understanding of what it is and why it is important can help ensure you are prepared to make the right decisions for you, your family, and your estate. Read on to get answers to some common questions about this important legal process.

What are powers of attorney?

Power of attorney is a written document that will give another person or institution the power to make legal decisions on your behalf. The document will identify the specific types of decisions that can be made, and in what circumstances the designated person will have this authority. In most cases, powers of attorney only become active when you become unable to act on your own behalf, such as when you are injured or too ill to the point where you are incapacitated. The powers of attorney can be permanent or temporary, depending on the case.

What types of powers of attorney exist?

When granting someone powers of attorney, you need to know that this isn’t a “one size fits all” type of document. There are many types of powers of attorney, and you can incorporate one or more into your estate plan. Some of the most common types are:

  • General – A general power of attorney will be granted all the legal powers that you have, meaning they can make any decision for you that they would like once it is active. They are legally bound to act in your best interests, but that is a fairly broad definition, making it critical to choose someone who you trust.
  • Limited – This is an option where you give someone else the power to act on your behalf in very limited situations. A simple example of this could be granting someone the ability to sign specific legal documents on your behalf on a certain day because you know you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable.
  • Durable – A durable power of attorney can be limited in scope, but once active it will stay effective indefinitely. This can be used when you have someone acting on behalf of you and your estate, and you want them to continue to do so should you become incapacitated.
  • Springing – A springing power of attorney will not become active until you become incapacitated. In this type, you must be very specific about what situations will constitute incapacitation. Florida no longer authorizes springing powers of attorney, but the old springing POA’s are grandfathered in.

How can powers of attorney benefit you?

Granting someone powers of attorney will help ensure that your interests are represented in cases where you can’t do it yourself. Should you become incapacitated without a power of attorney document in place, nobody can make decisions on your behalf until the court names someone for you, which can take quite some time. By planning ahead, you can protect your interests and ensure someone you trust is acting for you.

We can help you with all your Florida estate planning needs

If you don’t have powers of attorney in your estate plan, or you would like to have it updated, we are here to help. Contact ProActive Legal Care to discuss your powers of attorney and how it can benefit you.

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