A Power of Attorney case in Florida.With a power of attorney, you can appoint someone to act on your behalf. This powerful legal document is important because you still maintain control over your life, but you have a plan if you need someone to make decisions for you. In this blog, we will discuss the different types of powers of attorney and why having one is important.

If you are considering a power of attorney, contact the wills and trusts lawyers at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. to discuss this important estate planning document.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a written, legally enforceable document that gives someone (the agent or attorney-in-fact) authority to act on behalf of another (the principal). The agent can have powers ranging from financial decisions to legal decisions. The principal chooses exactly what the agent can and cannot do. Of course, the law prohibits the agent from performing certain duties, such as voting in a public election or executing a will.

All fifty states accept powers of attorney signed in another state, but each has its own requirements.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are several kinds of powers of attorney, and the one that is right for you depends on your needs. In Florida, all powers of attorney become effective once the document is properly executed.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney gives the agent broad powers to act. For example, the agent may have the authority to “do anything the principal could do.”

In 2011, Florida adopted the Florida Power of Attorney Act, which did away with general powers of attorney in the state. This means an agent can perform only those acts expressly stated in the document. It is still useful to know about this type of power of attorney because Florida recognizes valid, out-of-state powers of attorney, including general powers of attorney.

Limited or Special Power of Attorney

A limited or special power of attorney grants the agent authority to act for a specific reason and a limited time period. This type of power of attorney is common when a person leaves the country and needs someone to handle a matter while they are away. Once the agent completes the task or the time limit is up, the agent’s powers terminate.

Durable Power of Attorney

With a durable power of attorney, the agent can act on your behalf even if you become incapacitated. You can make this power of attorney as specific as you want, and these documents often include a long and detailed list of all of the powers being authorized. Florida law requires that the document explicitly state that it is a durable power of attorney.

Springing Power of Attorney

A springing power of attorney goes into effect upon the happening of a certain event, such as incapacity. Florida only recognizes springing powers of attorney created before 2011, and anything written after that is considered effective immediately upon signing. This means you can no longer create a power of attorney that only becomes effective if you are incapacitated.

Reasons Why You Need a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is important for anyone regardless of their financial status, family dynamics, or long-term goals. Below are some reasons why you should include a power of attorney as part of your estate plan.

Peace of Mind

Life can change in an instant. Whether you are involved in an accident, suddenly become ill, or suffer from an incurable disease, having a power of attorney in place can provide comfort,

knowing someone can step in to make important financial and legal decisions for you and your family.

Avoids Guardianship Proceeding

If you lose the capacity or ability to manage your own affairs, it may be necessary for a court to appoint a guardian and you may not be able to choose this person or entity who makes day-to-day and long-term decisions for you. However, by creating a power of attorney, you get to select the individual or entity who has decision-making power and the court may not need to appoint a guardian. Guardianship proceedings can be long, expensive, and emotionally taxing on you and your family, and a power of attorney can be an important part of your estate plan to avoid concerns about that stress and expense.

Asset Protection

Your agent has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest. This duty includes:

  • Acting only within the scope of authority,
  • Acting in good faith,
  • Attempting to preserve your estate,
  • Minimizing taxes, and
  • Applying for benefits or assistance.

If you lose the ability to manage your affairs, your agent is legally obligated to safeguard your property.

Does Not Leave Your Family Guessing

A power of attorney allows you to make your intentions known. Rather than put your family at odds over how to manage your assets, a power of attorney alleviates that stress and burden when you specifically nominate the people you wish to act on your behalf.

How to Create a Power of Attorney in Florida

Florida has several requirements to create a valid power of attorney.

Agent Must Meet Qualifications

The agent must be a person at least 18 years of age or a financial institution that can conduct trust business and has a physical office in Florida.

Must Properly Execute the Document

The principal (you) must sign the power of attorney document in the physical presence of two witnesses, who must also sign. A notary needs to be present and acknowledge all signatures.

You do not need a lawyer to write a power of attorney, but it’s a good idea. While it may be tempting to use an online template, these often do not take into consideration regular changes in the law. Contact FL trusts and wills lawyer to help you create an effective, enforceable power of attorney in Florida.

Contact the FL Trusts and Wills Attorneys at Beller & Bustamante, P.L.

Our experienced lawyers work with their clients to create durable powers of attorney. We are a small firm with over 40 years of legal experience, and we know the nuances of Florida law. We educate our clients so they feel confident signing any estate planning document. Speak with one of our lawyers by calling our office or contacting us online. Our goal is to help you achieve your goal.