In a recent blog, I discussed the difference between naming consecutive or successor agents versus naming co-agents in a Durable Power of Attorney ("DPOA"). A common question we hear when naming co-agents is whether they must act together. Stated another way, if co-agents are named, can one act alone or independently without the other being present?
An essential document in any Florida estate plan should include a Durable Power of Attorney ("DPOA"). This document allows a person to designate another person or persons to act on their behalf in connection with personal, business and financial matters. A DPOA is critical in the event a person has a health crisis or becomes severely injured or incapacitated. Elderly persons particularly benefit by having a DPOA because their designated person, i.e. their agent, can act for them on matters that they can no longer do themselves. Without a DPOA, often a court-administered guardianship becomes the only alternative.
As an estate planning lawyer, I always recommend that clients have both a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a Durable Power of Attorney for non-medical matters. In each of those documents, the client is authorizing a person or persons to make decisions and act on their behalf. The Power of Attorney for Healthcare covers decision-making for medical and health issues; the Durable Power of Attorney for covers decision-making and taking action on non-medical matters such as finances, banking, and bill paying. So, can you authorize two or more people to act as co-agents under these instruments and if you do, can one agent act without the other or does action require all agents to act together? The simple answer in Florida is that you may name co-agents and one co-agent may act without the other co-agent.
As an estate planning attorney, I am often asked what needs to be done to terminate a Durable Power of Attorney ("DPOA"). In Florida, there are two ways to accomplish such a termination.
To say that a Power of Attorney ("POA") is "durable" means that the powers given in the instrument stay in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated and unable to manage his or her own affairs. When a POA in Florida is not durable, the powers cease if the principal becomes incapacitated--thereby requiring that a court-ordered guardianship be established. Most estate planning attorneys would advise to avoid guardianship if possible.
Estate planning lawyers often recommend that clients establish certain key documents. Among those are a Durable Power of Attorney ("POA"). This instrument allows a person to designate an agent to act for them in the event of incapacity.