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What Are Florida Powers of Attorney?

Florida Powers of Attorney are one of the most important and underappreciated legal documents in financial and estate planning.

With a Power of Attorney, a person (referred to as the “principal”) gives another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the legal right to take action on the principal’s behalf.  The scope of the agent’s authority is set forth in the Power of Attorney, and can be as limited or broad as the principal desires. 

For example, if the principal will be out of the area when real estate is being purchased or sold, the principal could give a trusted relative or friend a power of attorney to sign all legal documents necessary for the transaction.   A power of attorney for a specific purpose only (i.e. purchase or sale of real estate) is sometimes referred to as a “Special”, “Specific” or “Limited” Power of Attorney. 

More commonly, principals grant their agents broader authority and powers.  These documents are often referred to as a “General” Power of Attorney and can include the right to handle banking transactions; create trusts; sign contracts; relocate the principal from one state to another and deal with the social security administration.  If this powers extend beyond the time in which the principal is incapacitated and unable to personally handle their own affairs, the power of attorney is usually referred to as a “Durable” Power of Attorney.

An agent is not obligated by law to serve on behalf of the principal.  However, if he does choose to serve, he must act prudently and is considered a fiduciary, (one acting in a trusted relationship) and subject legal standards of care. 

Powers of Attorney must be properly witnessed and notarized to be valid.

For more information on Powers of Attorney please see the link to The Florida Bar.

Please call me to schedule an appointment to learn more about protecting your interests.  In most cases, the time and expense required to prepare Powers of Attorney is minimal, especially compared to the significant legal expense and potential issues that can arise in the absence of one.  

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