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What is a durable power of attorney?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2022 | Estate Planning

Your estate plan can be as simple as a will and possibly a trust. But estate planning can mean more than deciding who will inherit your wealth after you pass away.

One of the most important ways you can use your estate plan is to plan for the possibility, however remote, that an injury or disease will leave you mentally incapacitated. If that ever happens to you, you will need help dealing with doctors, making sure your bills are paid, and more. That is why so many people in the Jacksonville area include a durable power of attorney in their estate plans.

A power of attorney form empowers you, as the “principal,” to designate someone else to take over authority in certain areas of your life. When it takes effect and exactly what the other party, called the “agent,” has the power to do depends on the document’s terms. It can be open-ended and grant broad powers, or last for a set time period and narrowly grant specific powers only, reserving the rest for the principal.

What sets a durable power of attorney apart

A durable power of attorney is a specific type that does not terminate if the principal becomes incapacitated. It is the most popular type. To be accepted in court as durable, a power of attorney must contain certain language explaining that it is meant to survive the onset of incapacity.

Who can be an agent?

In Florida, anybody 18 or older who is mentally competent can be an agent. Most people choose their spouse, one of their parents or an adult child as their agent, but you can select anyone you trust to be available and able to handle your medical and financial affairs in the way you want.

Having a durable power of attorney in your estate plan is an important piece of protecting your finances and your medical care no matter what happens. But a mistake in drafting the document can have serious consequences. Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help prevent this.