What is a power of attorney?

It is not uncommon for one person in a family to be faced with a serious illness or degenerative condition that can render them unable to make critical decisions. This leaves relatives searching for ways to take care of their loved one. At these times, having identified a person who can make such choices on your behalf is important. One means of doing this for Florida residents is by setting up what is called a power of attorney.

In the ideal situation, a power of attorney would be created during normal estate planning processes. This avoids unforeseen emergencies from happening when you or your family members are not yet ready to handle decision making in this way. According to the National Caregivers Library website, a power of attorney identifies two parties. The first is the person who will assume responsibility if needed. This person is called the attorney-in-fact. The second is the person who would ultimately relinquish decision-making power in the event that incapacitation results. This person is called the principal.

A power of attorney can be developed specifically for medical or health-related decisions. Alternatively, these decisions can be just one of many areas in which an attorney-in-fact can have control. Other areas include the identification of a guardian. Financial matters ranging from care costs to gift giving can all be under the control of the attorney-in-fact. When a power of attorney is developed, the principal must be mentally competent to enter into the agreement. Having this capability confirmed by medical professionals and other witnesses may be helpful.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about the legal issues related to a power of attorney in Florida.

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