Executing a power of attorney (POA) can be an important decision a person can make. But it can be confusing to understand the types of powers of attorney available under Florida state law.
Read on to learn more about limited and durable powers of attorney in Florida and how a real estate/estate planning attorney can help you and your loved ones through the process.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that designates an individual, or “agent,” to act on behalf of another individual, the “principal.”
Many people use powers of attorney to allow a family member or close friend to perform financial transactions or sign legal real estate documents on their behalf. In Florida, you can create two different types of powers of attorney (in addition to a healthcare power of attorney for medical decision-making covered in prior blogs).
- Durable power of attorney. A document that allows the agent to continue executing authority for an indefinite period of time, until it is revoked by the principal or the person dies.
- Limited power of attorney. A document that provides the agent with limited authority, typically for a specific purpose and time.
Talking with an experienced lawyer is an effective way to determine the proper power of attorney for your situation. Implementing the wrong POA could leave an agent with inadequate or, alternatively, too much control.
A Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) allows the agent to enact broad authority for the principal. This document allows the person to conduct all financial transactions for the individual, including their banking, signing checks, filing taxes, and selling their property, along with other scenarios that may arise. The document’s broad nature allows it to cover many possible legal situations in advance.
What this means is that once a person has signed a durable power of attorney, the agent has the immediate power to take over their financial and real-estate decisions.
Years ago there used to be a power of attorney with a “springing” mechanism so that it only came into effect when the principal became incapacitated in some way. This document is no longer available. Instead, a durable power of attorney gives the agent the ability to make financial decisions for the principal right away.
It’s important that a person use great care before giving someone this authority. It’s also crucial to choose the right person, whom you know for certain will look after your best interests. The durable power of attorney stays “durable,” or effective, from the initial signing until it is revoked or the principal passes away.
Limited Power of Attorney
In contrast, a limited power of attorney gives the agent power for a specific purpose and timetable. For example, when some is selling or purchasing real estate and they are not available to sign the contract or the closing documents, they might give the ability to do that to someone they trust.
The document conveying the limited power of attorney specifically states the nature of the transaction the person can complete. Once that is done, their power ends.
Florida Power of Attorney Requirements
Florida law requires individuals to meet several criteria before they can become a POA agent.
First, if you live in Florida, you and the principal will need to create a valid power of attorney under Florida law rather than under the law of another state. If you have already made a POA in a different state, its authority may not extend to Florida.
Next, the POA agent must be at least 18 years of age.
Sometimes, people give their attorney or real estate agent a limited power of attorney to complete the transaction for them. This is fine as well.
Additionally, for the POA to become effective in Florida, the principal should sign the document in the presence of two witnesses and a notary.
When to Execute a Durable Power of Attorney
Knowing when a loved one should execute a durable power of attorney can be challenging. In many cases, individuals may not want to admit that they need assistance making financial and legal decisions.
However, if a loved one seems like they may soon lose their ability to sign important documents, becoming an agent for them with a durable power of attorney can make their life much easier in the future.
At the Law Office of Gary M. Landau, P.A., we have over 25 years of experience providing legal services to help clients in Broward and south Palm Beach Counties understand and execute powers of attorney and other legal documents.
You can schedule a free initial consultation with attorney Gary M. Landau in Coral Springs, FL. The office works with clients in person, over the phone, or by Zoom.
Please call (954) 979-6566 or complete our online form to make an appointment.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction.
LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A.
7401 Wiles Road, Suite 204
Coral Springs, FL 33067