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Overcoming Challenges When Your Power of Attorney Fails

12.26.23 P42 Paul Riffel Blog 2

Do you have a Florida power of attorney? Were you aware that the Florida power of attorney (also referred to as a POA) is a powerful Florida estate planning tool? The power of attorney, which is a legal document, allows you to grant someone you trust and select 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. 

But how do you overcome challenges when your power of attorney fails? Or if it is not even recognized?  We are well aware that the consequences can be both personally and financially devastating. Right now we want to explore the potential outcomes and help you to find ways to protect you, your loved ones, and your legacy.

  1. There may be important opportunities lost to invest in your legacy. Because your power of attorney is non-functioning, critical decisions may be delayed, especially if there is a time-sensitive opportunity to manage your assets, investments, or other financial avenues. Buying a crucial property, selling assets at the right market price, making business decisions, or allocating funds to a philanthropic cause are just a few of the moments that could define your legacy. Without a valid power of attorney in place, these moments may be lost forever, thus altering the legacy you intended to leave behind.
  2. The court may take over. If you became incapacitated, what would happen?  Without a functioning or created power of attorney, the court may have to step in to decide who will make decisions on your behalf through a guardianship process. This is both a time-consuming and expensive procedure. Sadly, the court-appointed guardian may not necessarily be someone you would have chosen. You need to know that this person could make choices that you might not agree with, regarding your health, finances, or other personal matters.

There is also another very important consideration, which is that not having a “durable” power of attorney can cause this to happen. A power of attorney is not able to act unless you have provisions in place making it “durable.” Or, in other words, able to be used when you can no longer make decisions for yourself which is exactly when you need it to work.

  1. Your loved ones may experience emotional and financial strain. When a power of attorney does not work, it can place a significant emotional burden on your loved ones. They might have to struggle with tough decisions without your clear guidance, potentially leading to disputes among family members. There may even be fighting over who should be in charge of your person and your finances, which may result in an expensive and timely court battle that we have already shed light on. Sadly, the financial toll can be substantial. From potential legal fees in battling for guardianship to missed financial opportunities, your family may face unnecessary hardships.
  2. Your lack of an adequate power of attorney may cause the potential downfall of your business and your legacy. An inadequate or non-working power of attorney is particularly perilous for business owners. In the absence of clear decision-making authority, businesses can suffer from stalled operations, contractual breaches, or missed opportunities. For example, a few of the problems that could arise might be that employees are left in limbo, suppliers and partners might become wary, and the reputation of the business could be at stake.

As you have read above, the durable power of attorney is not just a document; it is a shield that protects your interests, your legacy, and the well-being of your loved ones. Making certain of its validity and functionality is paramount. If you have not reviewed your Florida power of attorney recently, or if you are unsure about its effectiveness, now is the time to consult with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. By choosing to take proactive measures today, you can prevent a cascade of challenges tomorrow. Do not leave your future, and the future of those you care about, to chance.

While this article might ignite more questions, it serves as a stepping stone towards understanding the nuanced world of power of attorney in Florida. When your family or financial health is on the line, trust attorney Paul Riffel to help you protect your interests and achieve your goals. Attorney Paul Riffel has been practicing law in Florida for over 41 years, focusing in the areas of Tampa estate planning and  family law. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.

Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Paul Riffel Law is located in Tampa FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Odessa, Thonotosassa, Gibsonton, Sydney, Dover, Land O Lakes, Oldsmar, Apollo Beach, Lithia, Safety Harbor, Trilby, Plant City, Durant, Holiday, Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

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