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Florida's power of attorney laws changed, do you know them?

There are probably a large number of our Melbourne readers who decided to draft their estate plan earlier in life rather than waiting until after retirement. Although this is considered a very good idea by many, especially when considering how unpredictable life can be on occasion, the effectiveness of an early-drafted estate plan can depend greatly on whether or not it has been updated over the course of its life.

As you can probably imagine, failing to update information in an estate plan can create some rather complex legal situations down the road if people aren't careful. This can lead to probate litigation that is oftentimes less about what the decedent wanted and more about what the law allows with the situation at hand. With this in mind, did you know that a few years ago, the Florida Legislature changed the power of attorney laws in our state? If you answered no, you may not be alone.

Changes to our laws happen all the time, oftentimes with little pomp and circumstance. So what should you know about power of attorney laws in Florida? Although all of the rules for enforceability these laws can be found on the Florida Bar's webpage, we'd like to highlight a few necessary laws we think our readers should pay most attention to.

For starters, the new laws will apply to "Powers of Attorney signed on or after Nov. 1, 2014." For any power of attorney orders that were executed before Oct. 1, 2011, a discussion with a lawyer may be necessary in order to determine its use or the enforceability of it. It's also important to note that special rules were assigned to durable powers of attorney such as the fact that "Durable Power of Attorney may not be used for an incapacitated [person]" unless the order includes specific language that allows for the survivability of the order after incapacitation.

If people don't know about these changes or have concerns about how they will affect their estate plan, talking to a skilled estate planning attorney is a good idea, especially because they can help determine if it's necessary to make any changes to avoid as any problems when they die.

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