In Florida, Power of Attorney (POA) is the legal authorization of a selected individual to act on behalf of another person in important life decisions such as taxes, property, finances, investment and medical decisions.
In this blog, we’ll make it easy to understand the details of a Florida Power of Attorney and explain how you set up the authorization yourself:
What Is a Florida Power of Attorney?
- A Florida Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that legally authorizes an individual to act on behalf of another person.
- The individual they are acting on behalf of is called the principal.
- The authorization is given to an ‘agent’ or ‘attorney-in-fact’.
- The attorney may acquire the power to have broad or limited legal authority to make decisions over finances, property, taxes, investments and medical care.
- Florida Power of Attorney is most commonly used when the principal is unavailable to sign legal documents.
- Power of Attorney remains effective even if the principal becomes disabled or sick.
Types of Power of Attorney in Florida:
The type of Florida Power of Attorney you may need will vary depending on your goals and needs. There are various types of authorizations of power, including:
General Power of Attorney
General Power of Attorney gives your attorney the broad authority to represent you in most areas of your legal life, from banking and investments to real estate transactions and filing taxes.
Limited Power of Attorney
Limited Power of Attorney in Florida provides legal authorization of power for a specified purpose and time duration. A common example is if you are planning to travel for a few months, but you need to complete the sale of your home while you’re away – you could use Limited Power of Attorney to resolve this problem on your behalf.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable Florida Power of Attorney allows your attorney to remain authorized in the event you become incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorneys can have a general or specific power, which must be spelled out in the document.
Springing Power of Attorney
Florida has not allowed the use of ‘springing powers’ since its removal from the Florida statutes in 2011.
Spring Power of Attorneys is still used in other states and only becomes active once the principal is incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney
Medical Power of Attorney in Florida signs a durable power of attorney for health-related decisions. This document describes the principal’s consent to the selected Power of Attorney to make decisions in the event of medical conditions.
The individual authorized as the Medical Power of Attorney is legally bound to oversee any medical decisions made for the principal, such as life support.
How to Set Up a Florida Power of Attorney:
Signing the Documents
Florida Power of Attorney templates can be found online but this route is a risk as it may contain mistakes or information that isn’t specific to you – leaving you and your family vulnerable for misinterpretation.
A wiser route is to talk to a local Florida Estate Planning attorney who will guide you through the process, so you ensure your documents are valid and make the best decisions for you and your family.
Before setting up a Florida Power of Attorney, you must consider whether the individual
creating it has the capacity to execute the document.
In Florida, you must have an understanding of what you are executing and be aware of the effects of appointing a Florida Power of Attorney. This understanding is called ‘capacity’.
Many people will come to us and ask whether their elderly family members can execute the document. As long as they fully understand the decision at the time of signing, they have the capacity.
However, if they struggle to understand what is being explained to them, we might hit a problem.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact our Florida Estate Planning attorneys for a free consultation.
Florida statute Section 709.2105 states that you must sign the Florida Power of Attorney documents in the physical presence of two witnesses and be acknowledged by a notary.
All must sign the document in the presence of one another. Sadly many people fail to validate their documents by failing to do this.
Does The Individual Qualify for Florida Power of Attorney?
The next question you need to ask is, does the agent or attorney you wish to authorize as Florida Power of Attorney qualify to do so?
Florida law requires the individual must be:
- Aged 18 or older, or;
- In a financial institution that has trust power;
- Owns a place of business in Florida;
- Is authorized to conduct trust business in this state.
Who Should I Designate as Power of Attorney?
Perhaps most importantly, you must designate a person you can trust.
This person will gain exclusive and considerable power over significant decisions in your life. This is not the time to make mistakes.
Often, people select an individual they have been close to their entire life, like a sibling or best friend.
However, the wisest thing is to usually appoint an attorney. Attorneys are professionals specifically trained for the role, with first-hand experience and know-how.
Of course, this decision may vary depending on the type of Florida Power of Attorney you’re going for. For example, it would be wise to appoint a lawyer for the limited power of attorney for the closing of a real estate sale.
But for a medical power of attorney, it would likely be better to pick someone in your family who can make a decision that is best for you and your loved ones.
Common Reasons to Use a Florida Power of Attorney:
- To avoid guardianship proceedings and court if you become incapacitated.
- To help you with day-to-day financial and legal decision-making.
- To authorize a professional to complete a specific transaction.
- To authorize someone to sign documents on your behalf.
- To protect you and your loved ones should you become incapacitated.
- To appoint someone to make health-care decisions on your behalf.
Contact a Florida Power of Attorney Lawyer
If you or a loved one are looking to authorize Florida Power of Attorney, then our Florida Power of Attorney lawyers can help.
We can help guide you through the process and drafting of the documents or act on your behalf in legal matters.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can help you in any area of Estate Planning and Family Law.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.