Florida residents who are concerned about the unexpected should make sure to include a durable power of attorney in their estate plan. They can use the document to give someone they trust the authority to make certain financial decisions on their behalf should they unexpectedly become incapacitated or ill.

If the document is not in place, the family of an incapacitated person will likely be required to ask the courts to step in. It is a legal process that can be very expensive and time-consuming for the family who will already be under significant emotional strain.

All adults, whether they are single or married, should complete a power of attorney. Spouses may typically be able to handle basic financial matters with no issues, but there are several financial transactions that require the signatures of both spouses. If certain assets are in just one spouse’s name, the other spouse may not be able to use those assets to pay for the medical costs incurred by the other spouse’s condition.

A durable power of attorney is just one type of financial power of attorney. The documents become enforceable when it is signed, and unless it is revoked, remains effective during any incapacitation of the individual or until the individual dies. With this power of attorney, the agent has the authority to address a broad range of financial matters on the behalf of the individual. If the power is not specified as being durable, it may not be effective if the individual becomes incapacitated.

An estate planning attorney may assist clients with determining what types of powers of attorney should be included in their estate plan. Assistance may be provided for drafting the legal documents that give a trusted individual or entity the authority to conduct certain financial transactions on behalf of clients.