What is a Power of Attorney in Florida?
A Florida power of attorney is a legal document that allows one person to legally act for another person. 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 let the attorney-in-fact act legally for the other person for any aspect of that person’s life, including entering and making contracts, loans, mortgages, deeds, trusts, and so on.
- A power of attorney allows someone else to legally act for another person.
- A person with power of attorney can do anything listed in the power of attorney document.
- In Florida, a power of attorney is active either all of the time or not at all. You cannot have a “springing” power of attorney that only becomes active upon incapacity.
Understanding a Florida Power of Attorney
Under Florida law, certain powers must not only be listed in the power of attorney document, but they must specifically be initialed to ensure that the grantor of the power truly did mean to give the attorney-in-fact that power.
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.
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.
When Does Power of Attorney Take Effect?
In Florida, a power of attorney is effective immediately upon signing. Prior versions of the power of attorney law allowed a springing power of attorney, which takes effect only upon incapacity. But recent revisions to Florida law outlawed the use of the springing power of attorney.
Because the Florida power of attorney document is active all the time, a person should be very comfortable with the attorney-in-fact indeed having the power given to them.
The durable nature of a power of attorney is why a Florida power of attorney is sometimes called a durable 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 else the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated or should you be totally unable to communicate to your physician.
The health care surrogate is also authorized to receive medical information about your health condition and treatment from a health care provider.
Should You Have 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.