Legal Blog

October 7, 2019

Common Misconceptions about a Power of Attorney

Having a valid and up-to-date power of attorney is an essential part of an estate plan. However, many people fail to draft a power of attorney, or they make errors when doing so because of some common misconceptions. Such misconceptions can include the following, and to discuss your specific situation, contact our Florida estate planning lawyers at The Legacy Law Firm directly. 

You Should Use an Internet Form

The internet gives us access to a wide range of legal forms, including power of attorney documents. However, do-it-yourself powers of attorney can be risky. The form might:

  • Not be in compliance with specific Florida law
  • Be too ambiguous
  • Not address specifics of your situation

It is always wise to draft your power of attorney with the guidance of an experienced estate planning lawyer instead of using a generic form online.

A Power of Attorney has the Authority to Do Whatever They Want with Your Estate

Some people fail to designate a power of attorney because they fear the designated individual will ruin their estate and take assets and property for themselves. However, under the law, a power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to you and your estate. This is the highest legal duty and requires the power of attorney to act accordingly. The fiduciary duty includes:

  • Always making prudent financial decisions
  • Never acting in a self-serving manner
  • Never waste property or assets
  • Always act in your best interests

If a power of attorney fails to abide by this duty and acts in a manner that negligently or intentionally harms your estate, they can be held legally liable for their actions.   Understanding that a power of attorney is legally prohibited from benefiting from their position can give you confidence when making the designation. However, you should always carefully select the individual who you want to handle your affairs.

A power of attorney can also be drafted in a way that restricts the agent’s power to act on your behalf.  This way you feel more comfortable about what you’re authorizing your agent to do.

A Durable Power of Attorney Continues after Your Death

Some people believe that a power of attorney will simply continue after their death, so there is no need for an executor or other estate planning designations. However, “durable” power of attorney means the document survives mental incapacity – not death. A power of attorney will terminate upon death, and it is important to designate who will then be in charge of administering your estate. 

Consult with Our Florida Estate Planning Attorneys for More Information

The Legacy Law Firm helps clients with every aspect of estate planning, including powers of attorney. Call 954-999-9683. or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs with our legal team. We have offices in Delray Beach and Coral Springs to accommodate South Florida.

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