According to Florida Statute 702.2, a Power of Attorney (also referred to as a POA) is a written authorization that allows a person (called an agent) to act in the place of someone else (a principal). Powers of attorney serve a distinct and defined purpose. This overview explains what a power of attorney is and when you may need to create one.
This type of POA gives someone authority to perform various tasks for another person, from managing household affairs to conducting business transactions. Since these POAs can cover a wide range of responsibilities, the POA must specify what authority the principal intends to give the agent.
A limited POA is task-oriented. It goes into effect for a defined length of time or until a certain task is performed. Once the date has passed, or the duty is completed, the power of attorney is no longer valid.
POAs are only effective while the principal is conscious. A special type of POA, called a durable power of attorney, is needed if the principal wishes to give authority while incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney authorize another to make healthcare decisions or manage personal finances in a medical emergency.
Powers of attorney only give authority to the specific tasks or responsibilities you dictate within the document. They can range from personal, financial, or business-related responsibilities. It is best to have an attorney draft and review the document to ensure that a POA does not give overreaching authority to another.
POAs can be used for various reasons, from closing on a home when you live out of state to allowing someone to make healthcare decisions regarding a terminal illness. Here are the most common situations someone may wish to execute a power of attorney:
- Legal—to allow someone else to sign a contract or document on your behalf. Legal POAs can be effective once or for a defined time period.
- Financial—to authorize someone to access your banking information and make transactions on your behalf.
- Domestic—to give a relative or friend authority to perform various everyday tasks for you, such as paying bills.
- Medical—to allow someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot do so.
In Florida, a POA must be a written document signed by the principal and two witnesses. It must also be notarized. The document must identify the principal, the agent, and the responsibilities the agent is allowed to perform. Most POAs are effective immediately, unless otherwise specified.
If it is a durable POA, the document must include a statement such as this one specified in the Florida Statutes: “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in chapter 709, Florida Statutes.”
The principal can terminate a POA in writing at any time.
We help residents throughout Merritt Island and the Space Coast with their estate planning needs, including powers of attorney and advanced directives. Call us at 321-453-5007 for more information and to schedule a consultation with our caring and experienced estate planning attorney.