Free Florida Durable Power of Attorney - Will it work?

March 10, 2008

Over the weekend, I read an article about a Free Power of Attorney written by Jerry Bartholomew of the Michigan Elder Law Blog and decided to look for a FreeFlorida Durable Power of Attorney. I ran across a website by H & R Block called RocketLawyer.com.

This website offered me a free Durable power of attorney for Florida residents. In reading fine print, I discovered that the "Free" document was going to charge my credit card 19.95 per month for ever if I did not cancel my account within 5 days. ( I did cancel my account, but it took me a while because they do not tell you how to cancel the account. (FYI to cancel your RocketLawyer account simply send and email to support@rocketlawyer.com with the words Cancel Account in the subject.

Anyway, I thought being a lawyer I could use their service to create a valid Power of Attorney but I wanted to know if someone who did not know what to do could create an invalid document.

I must say that I was surprised that not only was the document not Florida specific, and did not offer any of the protections that a valid Durable Power of Attorney can offer Florida Residents like being reimbursed for the costs of refusal to accept the agent's authority. The Free software also allowed me to create an invalid document.

Even scarier that an invalid document, it allowed me to simply revoke prior designations by putting a line in my document. Anyone who has been to a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer knows that give proper notice of a revocation for a Durable Power Of Attorney one must file a revocation in the county where they live.

What did I learn from creating my Free Florida Durable Power of Attorney? I learned that for $240 a year, I can create an invalid, unenforceable Florida Durable Power of Attorney which wrongly purports to revoke my old Florida Durable Power of Attorney. This invalid revocation could allow my old agent to continue to act as my agent in making decisions on my own. I would be responsible for my agents actions because I did not give proper notice for the revocation to become effective.

Oh yea, did I forget to mention that I was not given the opportunity to create a contingent deployment version of the Durable Power of Attorney, the free version took effect immediately, its a good think that the free version was not valid.

What a bargain.