A Power of Attorney (POA) can be a useful tool that allows you to engage in financial transactions even when you are not present to sign documents. A Power of Attorney also gives a person of your choice the ability to act on your behalf in the event you should become incapacitated. You could have a financial Power of Attorney or a healthcare Power of Attorney—or both, depending on your specific needs. It is extremely important that you take the initiative to address the issues associated with a Power of Attorney before the need for such a document arises.
As a resident of Florida, you can definitely benefit from having a Power of Attorney created under Florida law. Having an estate planning lawyer in Orlando from Groover Law, PLLC can be immensely helpful when preparing a Power of Attorney. I am Lea Anne Groover, and I have extensive experience with all aspects of estate planning, including the preparation of Powers of Attorney. I can help you decide which type or types of POAs you need, then prepare them for you.
What Are the Different Types of Powers of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney gives a person of your choice, known as your “agent,” the authority to act on your behalf. There are several different types of POAs, including:
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney is known as a Designation of Health Care Surrogate in the state of Florida.
- A Durable Power of Attorney is one that does not terminate in the event of your incapacitation. A Durable POA remains in effect in the event of your incapacitation, however, there are certain exceptions specified under Florida law. The Durable POA must contain special wording that states the power survives your incapacity.
- A General Power of Attorney gives your agent a very broad range of powers, allowing him or her to conduct all types of financial transactions. A specific list of all the different activities you are authorizing the agent to perform must be included in the General POA.
- A Limited, or Special Power of Attorney limits the authority of your agent to a single transaction, specific types of transactions, or to a specific period of time. As an example, perhaps you will be on vacation at the same time a piece of property you purchased is closing. You could use a Limited POA to delegate authority to the person of your choice to handle that one transaction.
- A Springing Power of Attorney only becomes effective upon your incapacitation, however, is no longer effective in Florida after the Legislature rewrote the Power of Attorney statutes in 2011.
What are Some Uses of a Power of Attorney in the State of Florida?
A Power of Attorney is an important and powerful legal document. You can use a Power of Attorney to allow another person to sell a car, home, or other property on your behalf, to access your bank accounts, to sign a contract on your behalf, to make healthcare decisions for you in the event of your incapacitation, or to perform virtually any legal act that you yourself could do, including even the ability to make gifts to others or to create a trust.
Must Your Power of Attorney Be Witnessed or Have a Notary?
Yes. When you have a POA prepared, you are known as the “principal,” and the recipient of your Power of Attorney is known as your “agent.” Any competent person 18 years or older may serve as your agent, and you should always choose your agent based on trustworthiness and reliability. Because this is such a powerful document, extra precautions are taken. A Power of Attorney must be signed by yourself and two witnesses to your signature. A Notary Public must acknowledge your signature for the Power of Attorney to be properly executed and valid under Florida law.
What May Your Agent Not Do on Your Behalf?
There are certain actions an agent is prohibited from doing—even if you state that your agent is authorized to do those actions. Unless your agent is a licensed member of the Florida Bar, he or she may not practice law in the state of Florida on your behalf. Your agent may not sign a document that states you have knowledge of certain facts. In other words, if you witnessed a car accident, your agent is not allowed to sign an affidavit stating what you saw or heard.
Unless certain “Super Powers” are initialed at the time of execution, the Agent can not perform such acts. These include:
- create a living trust,
- amend, modify, revoke, or terminate an existing Trust,
- make gifts (certain restrictions apply),
- create or change titles with rights of survivorship, and
- create or change beneficiary designations.
Your agent is not allowed to vote in a public election on your behalf. An agent may not create or revoke a will or codicil on your behalf. If you are under contract to perform a service, your agent may not do these services on your behalf. Finally, if you are appointed to be a trustee, a guardian, or a conservator, your agent may not take over these responsibilities.
What if a Third-Party Refuses to Accept a Power of Attorney?
When a Power of Attorney has been lawfully executed, third parties may have no choice but to honor the document. If a third-party refuses to accept a Power of Attorney (perhaps because they are concerned about the validity of the document, or are unsure whether the document has been properly executed, forged, or revoked), a written explanation of the refusal to accept the Power of Attorney must be tendered within a reasonable period of time. If the third-party refusal causes damage to you, the third-party could be held liable for those damages, including court costs and attorney’s fees.
How Groover Law Can Help You with a Power of Attorney?
At Groover Law I offer experienced, highly-skilled estate planning for those in the Orlando area. My firm, Groover Law places my skills, experience, and knowledge to work to help you create an estate plan that perfectly suits you, your loved ones, and your unique situations. I strongly believe in a client-oriented firm and will always go the extra mile to ensure it is easy to do business with me. I believe in communicating clear expectations associated with costs and time upfront and will work toward long-term relationships with every client. Contact me today.