What is a Power of Attorney in Florida?
A Florida power of attorney appoints another person to legally act for the grantor in financial matters. The person granted the power is often called the attorney-in-fact, or agent.
The scope of the power of attorney, also called a general power of attorney, can range from very small—a short duration and only the power to do very few things—to all-encompassing.
A broad power of attorney might empower the attorney-in-fact to act legally for the grantor for any aspect of their life, including entering and making contracts, loans, mortgages, deeds, trusts, and so on.
Durable Florida Power of Attorney
Prior versions of the power of attorney law allowed a springing power of attorney which is a power made to take effect only upon the grantor’s incapacity. But recent revisions to Florida law outlawed the use of the springing power of attorney.
Under current Florida law, a Florida power of attorney document is active immediately upon execution and delivery to the attorney in fact. A person should be very comfortable with the attorney-in-fact having this much power given to them during the grantor’s lifetime.
A grantor may revoke a power of attorney during their lifetime if the grantor is mentally competent. The power of attorney remains in effect if a grantor loses the mental capacity to manage their affairs. The durability after the incapacity of a power of attorney is why a Florida power of attorney is called a durable power of attorney.
What Does a Florida Power of Attorney Do?
Florida law limits powers granted to an attorney in fact to protect the grantor against relinquishing unlimited power over their life and finances. Under Florida law, certain powers must be specifically initialed to ensure that the grantor of the power truly did mean to give the attorney-in-fact that power. For example, the grantor must initial grant of power to amend the grantor’s living trust, file the grantor’s federal tax forms, and make elections under the grantor’s retirement plans.
A third party (such as a bank or other financial institution) must accept a valid power of attorney. But the third party is allowed to first consult legal counsel to determine the validity of the power of attorney.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney in Florida is often called a Designation of Health Care Surrogate or an advanced health care directive in some states.
This document is usually separate from a regular durable power of attorney. It gives someone the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated or should you be totally unable to communicate with your physician.
The health care surrogate is also authorized to receive medical information about your health condition and treatment from a health care provider.
FAQs About a Florida Power of Attorney
Can you have more than one power of attorney?
Yes, a person can create more than one power of attorney. A single power of attorney document may designate multiple people, or a person can use multiple documents, each giving a separate set of powers to specific people.
Sometimes a person may create a general power of attorney for one person while then creating a more limited power of attorney for another person.
Does a power of attorney end at death?
A power of attorney ends upon the grantor’s death. There is no legal way to extend the use of the power of attorney after the grantor dies. Financial institutions will not recognize and accept the right of the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of a deceased grantor.
Once the grantor dies, their personal representative (executor) takes legal authority over all assets still in the deceased person’s name. These assets do not include any property that was transferred automatically upon a person’s death. For example, often people will name a beneficiary to their retirement accounts, bank accounts, or even property with a lady bird deed. Such assets are not part of the person’s estate and are not controlled by the personal representative.
Should you get a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a typical component of basic Florida estate planning. However, younger couples or recently married couples may decide to omit the power of attorney from their estate plan. They may decide that they do not want to give their spouse the broad legal authority that a Florida power of attorney confers.