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What is a power of attorney?

Power of Attorney for Florida. What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a document which authorizes the receiver to handle the affairs of the creator on the creator’s behalf. It is often included as an important element of a Florida estate plan in order to prepare for eventual incapacity and disability. When the creator of the power of attorney becomes unable to administrate their own affairs, the party they have authorized becomes responsible to act on the individual’s behalf. The limit of that authority must be spelled out in the POA. It can be broad such that covers virtually all the creator’s personal and estate affairs, or limited to cover only a few aspects.

There are two parties involved in a POA, viz.:

  • The principal: The principal is the creator of the POA who authorizes another person or agent to act on their behalf.
  • The agent: The agent is the person who is given authority to act in the principal’s stead. He is the recipient of the power of attorney. Although sometimes referred to as an attorney-in-fact, the agent is not required to be a legal practitioner.

In some cases, a third-party is also included in a POA. The third-party is the person or entity with whom the agent must deal on behalf of the principal. This entity may be a corporation, the business management board of the principal, the principal’s doctor, lawyer, business partner, etc.

POA is an important part of a Florida estate plan

Most estate planning attorneys recommend including a POA in an estate plan in order to plan for incapacity. When the principal becomes incapacitated due to accident, severe illness, dementia or Alzheimer’s amongst others, the attorney-in-fact steps into their shoes to take charge of their affairs. This helps to prevent the lengthy court process of guardianship.

Requirements for instituting a power of attorney in Florida

The Florida laws again do not make much elaboration on how the body or content of the power of attorney should be like.

  • The agent as an individual must be eighteen or older
  • If the agent is an institution, then it must have trust powers and a business location in Florida with the legal authority to carry out trust business in same state.

Types of powers of attorney in Florida

There are different types of powers of attorney based on the limit or extent of the authority.

  • General power of attorney: this type of POA gives the agent a very broad scope. They can handle issues touching on various aspects of the principal’s personal and fiscal affairs.
  • Durable power of attorney: This power of attorney goes beyond disability or incapacity. The agent is authorized to act regardless of whether the principal is incapacitated. It is revoked by the principal.
  • Limited power of attorney: this type of POA only authorizes the agent to perform limited actions and on only certain kinds of transactions as spelled out in the document, or a limited period.
  • Springing power of attorney: This is the kind of power of attorney that only goes into effect when the maker falls into incapacity. When they get well, the authority is terminated. The springing power of attorney is no longer recognized in Florida.

Financial power of attorney in Florida

Creating a financial power of attorney in Florida is not so easy. This is because the Florida laws governing the legal concept, Florida Power of Attorney Act section 709.2101, do not provide an authorized form for it.

Relevance of a power of attorney

A power of attorney is a powerful and highly useful document. It empowers the agent to carry out business operations on behalf of the principal during their physical and mental absence. This way, the smooth running of things does not fall short simply because the principal is ill or temporarily disabled. Depending on the wordings of the power of attorney, the agent may have access to the principal’s bank accounts to make important purchases or financial transactions, liaise with contractors and business partners, make medical or financial decisions, carry out estate planning, etc. A power of attorney makes it possible for the principal to be present even in their absence.

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