Do you have a Florida power of attorney? Could your Florida power of attorney not work as you intend? What exactly is a power of attorney? The Florida power of attorney (also referred to as a POA) is a powerful Florida estate planning tool. With this legal document you are able to grant someone you trust the legal authority to act on your behalf in a variety of circumstances, ranging from paying your mortgage while you are away to handling your investment accounts. 

The above being said, what could happen when that power of attorney either does not work or is not recognized?  Unfortunately, the consequences could be both personally and financially devastating. We want to explore with you the potential outcomes and assist you in finding ways to protect you, your loved ones, and your legacy.

  1. Time lost to invest in your legacy. An unusable power of attorney can delay critical decisions, especially if there is a time-sensitive opportunity to manage your assets, investments, or other financial avenues. This inability to act could impact your legacy including, but not limited to, buying a crucial property, selling assets at the right market price, making business decisions, or allocating funds to a philanthropic cause. Without a valid legal document, POA, in place, these moments could be lost forever, altering the legacy you intended to leave behind.
  2. The court steps in and takes charge. If your power of attorney is not functional or not set up and you become incapacitated, the court may have to step in to decide who will make decisions on your behalf through a guardianship process. This process can be both time-consuming and expensive. Even more concerning, the court-appointed guardian may not be someone you would have chosen. This person could make choices that you might not agree with, regarding your health, finances, or other personal matters.  Another important part of the power of attorney is to have a “durable” power of attorney. A power of attorney is not able to act unless you have provisions in place making it “durable.” This means it can be used when you are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself which is exactly when you need it to.
  3. Loved ones have to bear the emotional and financial strain. Think about what would happen if your power of attorney is not recognized or is absent, it can place a significant emotional burden on your loved ones. There may be tough decisions to deal with without your clear guidance which could potentially lead to disputes among family members. These disputes could even lead to fighting over who should be in charge of your person and your finances, which may result in an expensive and timely court battle that we have already shared previously. The financial toll could be substantial. From potential legal fees in battling for guardianship to missed financial opportunities, your family may face unnecessary hardships.
  4. Your business and your legacy which you worked hard to build and nurture could potentially suffer.  For business owners, an ineffective power of attorney is very concerning and risky. In the absence of clear decision-making authority, businesses can suffer from stalled operations, contractual breaches, or missed opportunities. For example, a few of the problems that could arise could be that employees are left in limbo, suppliers and partners might become wary, and the reputation of the business could be at stake.

Finally, it is clear to see that the durable power of attorney is not just a legal document; it is a shield that protects your interests, your legacy, and the well-being of your loved ones. It is very important to be sure of its validity and functionality. If you have not reviewed your Florida power of attorney recently, or if you are unsure about its effectiveness, now is the time to consult with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. By choosing to take proactive measures today, you can prevent a cascade of challenges tomorrow. Do not leave your future, and the future of those you care about, to chance.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services.  By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.