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The powers that be: Florida's Durable Power of Attorney law

There are several important documents everyone should have in their Florida estate plan. Perhaps the most important is a basic will, but other planning tools are also useful, including a living will and power of attorney.

We recently read an article by an attorney about 150 miles south of Cocoa, reminding state residents of the big changes made to Florida Durable Power of Attorney law back in 2011.

The Palm Beach estate planning lawyer began by clarifying the difference between the two types of powers of attorney: an immediate power enables your agent to take action of your behalf regarding matters involving your health, competency and availability. The other power of attorney involves a what is known as "springing power." That is, your agent acts on your behalf only when you become incapacitated.

However, the Palm Beach lawyer notes that financial institutions are often reluctant to honor the springing power unless they are certain that the person is indeed incapacitated.

Regardless, the only type of durable power of attorney you can create today is an immediate power. The only springing power of attorney allowed are those executed before Oct. 1, 2011.

A change made in 2011 to be aware of: if you are married and your wife or husband was named as your agent, their authority to act on your behalf ends were a divorce action is filed. The only exception is if the power of attorney document expressly states that the spouse's powers should continue even in the event of a divorce action.

To learn more about how a durable power of attorney can help protect you and your assets, contact Cantwell & Goldman, P.A.

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