What Happens When Your Florida Power of Attorney Does Not Work?
The Florida power of attorney (also referred to as a POA) is a powerful Florida estate planning tool. Through 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.
What happens, however, when that power of attorney either doesn’t work or isn’t recognized? The consequences can be both personally and financially devastating. Let’s explore the potential fallout and find ways to protect you, your loved ones, and your legacy.
- Losing key moments to invest in your legacy. A non-functional power of attorney can delay critical decisions, especially if there’s a time-sensitive opportunity to manage your assets, investments, or other financial avenues. These are the moments that could define 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 in place, these moments could be lost forever, altering the legacy you intended to leave behind.
- The court takes over. If you become incapacitated and your power of attorney is not functional or not set up in the first place, the court may be forced to step in to decide who will make decisions on your behalf through a guardianship process. This procedure can be both time-consuming and expensive. More alarmingly, the court-appointed guardian may not necessarily 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.
Just the simple fact of not having a “durable” power of attorney can cause this to happen. An agent named under a power of attorney is not able to act unless you have provisions in place making it “durable.” Or, in other words, the document is able to be used when you can no longer make decisions for yourself which is exactly when you need it to work the most.
- The emotional and financial strain on loved ones. When a power of attorney is not recognized or absent, it can place a significant emotional burden on your loved ones. They might have to grapple with tough decisions without your clear guidance, potentially leading to disputes among family members. It can even cause fighting over who should be in charge of your person and your finances, which may result in an expensive and timely court battle. The financial toll can be substantial. From potential legal fees in battling for guardianship to missed financial opportunities, your family may face unnecessary hardships.
- The potential downfall of your business and your legacy. For business owners, an ineffective power of attorney is particularly perilous. In the absence of clear decision-making authority, businesses can suffer from stalled operations, contractual breaches, or missed opportunities. Just 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 suffer.
As we share here, you can see that the durable power of attorney is not just a document; it’s a shield that protects your interests, your legacy, and the well-being of your loved ones. Ensuring its validity and functionality is paramount. If you’ve not reviewed your power of attorney recently, or if you’re unsure about its effectiveness, now is the time to consult with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. When you choose to take proactive measures today, you can prevent a cascade of challenges tomorrow. Don’t leave your future, and the future of those you care about, to chance.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.