Learning about the rights and responsibilities powers of attorney hold in the state makes the process more accessible when the time comes.
- A power of attorney document provides an agent with control of your finances
- Various types of powers of attorney are available
- You’ll want to learn about these documents ahead of time
- Meeting with a lawyer makes the process easier
You’ve probably heard the term power of attorney at some point, but do you know what it means?
A power of attorney is a legal document permitting another person, called an agent, to sign legal agreements or act on your behalf when you aren’t present or if you have become incapacitated.
While senior citizens commonly use this tool to ensure a trusted family member can tend to their affairs when they’re unable to do so themselves, anyone over the age of 18 is eligible. Without a power of attorney in place, family members may have to go to court to gain control of certain interests or to make decisions on your behalf.
Power of attorney is available for both medical and financial decisions, and you’ll need a separate agreement for each.
Here’s a look at the three types of powers of attorney lawyers in Florida can put together for you.
1. General power of attorney
As its name suggests, a general power of attorney provides the agent with broad powers over your affairs.
When this power of attorney is financial in nature, it allows the agent to handle your banking and real estate transactions and pay your taxes. Providing a trusted person with this power ensures you continue paying your bills and allows real estate purchases and sales to be completed without your signature.
A health-related general power of attorney allows your agent to make end-of-life decisions, decide on treatment options, and determine which facilities to use as you recover.
Signing a general power of attorney gives your agent the most control over your financial and medical decisions. It can come in handy if you don’t feel able to make these decisions yourself.
2. Limited power of attorney
A limited power of attorney is different because it allows your agent to control your assets and decisions only for a specific purpose and for a limited time.
For example, if you’re heading into a remote part of the world for an extended vacation, you might grant an agent limited power of attorney to handle a real estate transaction while you’re away. This power could also extend to all real estate transactions and bill and tax payments for a set period, as there are various ways to use an agent.
The power you grant the agent terminates once it meets specific conditions or reaches its predetermined duration.
3. Durable power of attorney
The only way for your agent to retain authority over your finances and medical decisions when you’re incapacitated is via a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney can be general or limited in nature and ensures a trusted agent can continue making your decisions if your health continues to decline.
In Florida, your lawyer must include this specific language: “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in chapter 709, Florida Statutes.” The document could become void if your attorney doesn’t include this phrasing.
Remember that a durable power of attorney comes into effect the second both parties sign it and can remain in place for a predetermined period or for the rest of your life.
Springing power of attorney
Although other states offer springing power of attorney, it isn’t an option in Florida. In brief, springing power of attorney grants your agent authority from the moment you become incapacitated.
If you wish to grant an agent control of your finances or medical decisions when you’re incapacitated, a durable power of attorney is your only option in Florida.
Keep in mind that the principal must be considered competent and can’t be incapacitated when signing the power of attorney documents initially.
Other requirements you should know
It’s advisable to learn about some other agent requirements before you begin.
For starters, the agent must be over the age of 18 and mentally capable of handling the role. It’s also possible to use a financial institution with a physical location and the ability to do business in Florida as an agent.
For the document to be valid, the principal and the agent must sign the agreement in the company of one another and two witnesses, and a notary must acknowledge it.
When making all decisions, the agent must always act in good faith with the principal’s best interests in mind. If the agent doesn’t follow these rules, they may become liable for restoring the property’s value or paying any resulting legal fees.
Learning about your responsibilities as an agent ensures there aren’t any complications when fulfilling the role.
Putting your power of attorney documents together
Florida law doesn’t say much about the specific content requirements of a power of attorney document. It also doesn’t have an authorization form you can fill out to make the agreement legal, so a lawyer will have to write up a contract for all parties to sign.
This condition makes finalizing a power of attorney agreement in Florida slightly more challenging than in other states. Still, it’s possible to streamline the process by seeking a lawyer with experience in these matters.
PeytonBolin offers on-demand legal documents for Florida residents, including real estate power of attorney documents. All we’ll need from you is the names and addresses of the principal and agent, and we’ll draw up the papers and provide you with signing instructions to ensure the agreement is legal. You’ll typically receive your paperwork within five days.
Contact PeytonBolin today to learn more about our on-demand legal documentation services.