A "Durable Power of Attorney" (“DPOA”) is a critical document in preparing for any unexpected occurrences in the future. A DPOA is a document used to appoint a person to act for you to handle your personal financial affairs in the event you are incapacitated. Such appointment avoids the necessity of petitioning a court to appoint a Guardian to act on your behalf.
In Florida, the person appointed to serve on your behalf is known as your “Attorney-In-Fact” or “Agent.” Your Attorney-In-Fact will only have authority to act upon assets titled in your individual name. Thus, he or she will not have authority over property which has been transferred to your Revocable Trust (unless the Trustee and Attorney-In-Fact are the same person). In the event of incapacity, all assets in your Revocable Trust would be managed by the successor Trustee.
Who you choose as your Attorney-In-Fact/Agent is something you should think quite carefully about, as he or she will have the power to transfer money from bank accounts, sell real estate, change beneficiary designations and forgive debt. However, the new Florida Durable Power of Attorney form requires you to initial certain specific powers that they deem “special powers.” Examples of such special powers include making gifts on your behalf and investing in certain financial accounts.
In Florida, Durable Powers of Attorney generally become effective as soon as it is executed, regardless of your capacity. Therefore, in order to ensure that one’s Attorney-In-Fact does not gain control immediately, it is best to keep the signed copy with your attorney in escrow with instructions allowing release only if proof of the client’s incapacity is provided.
Let our experienced attorneys guide you through the process of establishing a Durable Power of Attorney. We will work with you to ensure that your DPOA is designed to take care of the personal and financial goals of you and your family.