Powers of Attorney Lawyer in Bradenton, Florida
Regardless of whether you’re just now thinking of writing a will or you’ve had one in place for years, many people still don’t know how powerful their estate plan really can be. Of course, the first thing we think when we think of an estate plan is outlining what will happen to our assets after we pass away and who we’ll name as our beneficiaries. Estate planning, however, can cover so many more situations. Specifically, most people either don’t know what a power of attorney can do, or they haven’t gotten around to setting it up yet. In either case, it’s important to meet with an estate planning attorney to evaluate your options.
If you’re in the Bradenton, Florida area or anywhere in Matinee County or Sarasota County, reach out to the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox to schedule a consultation. The firm is here to uphold your rights and help you navigate critical decisions in the estate planning process.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
There are different types of powers of attorney, but they all require you to name an individual who will act on your behalf in certain named circumstances, after you pass away, or when you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate. This person then becomes your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” and they can make decisions about your legal, financial, or even medical affairs. However, as the principal, you will indicate upfront exactly how extensive this person’s powers are and you also retain the power to revoke this position while you’re still alive.
In general, if a power of attorney is set up correctly in another state, the role will still be honored in Florida, although there may be state-specific laws that will affect this. For example, Florida’s Power of Attorney Act has regulations on how an attorney-in-fact must handle real estate transactions. If you’re an agent coming from out-of-state and you don’t follow these rules, your legal powers could be called into question.
The three most common types of power of attorney are durable, general, and limited. A durable power of attorney (DPOA) stays in place for the longest amount of time, even after the principal has become incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions on their own. A DPOA is perhaps the strongest option because the agent can immediately act on behalf of the principal with very little oversight. A general power of attorney (also called a universal power of attorney) differs in that it’s revoked once the principal becomes incapacitated or dies.
However, during the time a general power of attorney is valid, the agent can perform functions like managing assets, selling properties, or handling bank accounts and they typically have a very broad legal capacity to act on your behalf. A limited power of attorney is limited in scope and the principal will decide ahead of time the exact areas the agent can act in.
Why Are They Important?
Powers of attorney can be crucially important in many aspects of your life. They can be used in a very limited capacity such as if you’ll be living out of the country for a few years and want someone who can act on your behalf regarding your investments, or they can broadly give authority to someone you trust to make decisions in various aspects of your life. Establishing this role earlier in your life gives you control over your future and will take the burden off your family and loved ones. Additionally, it can help to prevent an unnecessary guardianship or conservatorship should you become incapacitated.
Considerations When Choosing an Agent
Choosing who should be your agent is probably the most difficult decision you’ll have to make, but it’s also the most important. Many people choose a family member for their agent, typically an adult child. This is generally a better choice than a spouse since your child will likely outlive you by many years, and your spouse may pass away before they’re able to fulfill their duties. Whomever you choose, this person should be someone who you implicitly trust to act in your best interest, but also someone who’s responsible and capable enough to fill the role.
If you have multiple children and you’re conflicted about who should serve as your agent, you can also assign multiple agents, each having their own designated role. For example, if you have one child you count on more for legal and financial advice, you can assign duties like this to them, while naming another child to make medical decisions for you.
Powers of Attorney Lawyer in Bradenton, Florida
If you’re interested in learning more about powers of attorney in Florida and how including these documents can enhance your estate plan, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Law Offices of David W. Wilcox in Bradenton, a skilled legal team is ready to help you move forward.