Create your power of attorney before it's too late
Updated: May 6
What would happen if for some unexpected reason you were hurt in an accident and were unable to communicate your wishes about your healthcare or access your financial accounts to pay your bills? Although many people expect that a family member or a close friend can simply step in to help, in many circumstances the physician or financial institution will not recognize the authority of the the family member or friend to act on your behalf unless you have properly authorized your family member or friend to help you. One way you can provide that authorization is through an estate planning document called a power of attorney.
In some cases, if there is no valid power of attorney in place, it may be necessary to go through a legal proceeding called a guardianship to have a court grant a person the authority to act on your behalf. As you can imagine, that process can be expensive, time consuming, and can sometimes cause discord among family members. The power of attorney lets you plan ahead in a thoughtful way to help avoid such problems.
In its most basic form, a power of attorney grants a specific person the authority to act on your behalf for some particular activity, such as to make health care decisions (known as a Advance Health Care Directive), to help you manage your finances, or to complete the closing of a real property sale if you are out of the State and unavailable to sign closing documents.
Florida law has specific requirements to create a valid power of attorney, which requirements can differ depending upon what kind of power of attorney you are trying to create. Although it is possible to download this kind of estate planning document from the Internet, a power of attorney has significant legal consequences and I recommend seeking legal advice before creating one.