In general, your health care surrogate handles medical matters if you are
not able to handle them yourself and your agent under your durable power
of attorney handles your financial and other non medical matters if you
are not able to handle them yourself.
The durable power of attorney is designed to let you choose who will step
in and speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. However,
in Florida, the agent you name in your durable power of attorney acquires
the right to speak on your behalf as soon as the durable power of attorney
is signed. This can make some people hesitant to put a durable power of
attorney in place. They are nervous that their agent may try to take control
of their finances while they are still legally competent. If this occurs,
you can revoke the durable power of attorney and therefore revoke the
agent’s ability to act on your behalf. However, despite the safety
net that revocation provides, it still may not give some people enough
peace of mind to put a durable power of attorney in place.
Despite their hesitation, it is very important to consider putting a durable
power of attorney in place because without a durable power of attorney,
if you live in Florida and become incapacitated, your family is going
to have to go to guardianship court to have someone appointed to handle
your financial matters for you.
So who can you feel comfortable naming as your agent under your durable
power of attorney? It has to be someone that you can trust to act in your
best interests. Sometimes that may be a family member and sometimes that
may be a close family friend. Sometimes it may be a professional fiduciary
who acts as an agent for a living and is bonded and has liability insurance.
So despite the nervousness that naming an agent under a durable power of
attorney can sometimes create, it is an important step to take and a step
that should be taken with someone who you feel is trustworthy and able
to remember that their duty in making decisions is to act in your best