When Is A Power Of Attorney Appropriate?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants one person, a designated agent, the right to make choices for the principal (the person who is the subject of the POA). There are many different family situations where a POA is appropriate, but it is not always the answer to every problem. If you are unsure as to whether you and your loved ones should have one drawn up, calling an experienced estate planning lawyer can make all the difference.
Granting Authority To Act
In Florida, a POA can be used to grant very limited authority, or to grant wide, sweeping control over all aspects of the principal’s life. With rare exceptions, POAs can be used to allow agents to negotiate almost any transaction on the principal’s behalf, from the financial arena to the medical – though it is important to keep in mind that a POA must be “durable” in order to persist even if the principal becomes incapacitated. A non-durable POA expires if the principal is in a coma or any other situation in which they cannot consent or otherwise weigh in on their agent’s activities.
In order to execute a valid POA, it is a good idea to visit an experienced attorney. Preprinted forms exist, but they often do not contain the specific language to cover the eventualities that you need it to cover. An individualized POA from an attorney will be much more likely to cover any kind of unique situation you might face. Once it is executed, you and two witnesses must sign it, and it must be notarized (in a pinch, the notary public is permitted to serve as one of the witnesses). Florida law requires that you, the principal, must be competent in order for the POA to be valid (that is, you must understand and agree to the provisions of the agreement).
Certain Actions Cannot Be Delegated
One part of executing a solid POA is ensuring that its language and construction are appropriate; the other part is to ensure that you choose the right agent. There is a surprising lack of requirements that an agent must meet under Florida law; the only requirements laid out in the statute are that they either be a “natural person who is 18 years old [or older],” or an appropriate financial institution that meets the requirements to conduct trust business in the state. That said, just because anyone can be an agent does not mean that they will not be subject to the criminal laws of the state of Florida if they act inappropriately. The principal’s authority is always ultimately paramount.
One of the most important things to remember is that there are certain actions that cannot be done by an agent, even if they have a POA. For example, an agent cannot practice law or perform a civic duty like serving on a jury or voting in the principal’s stead. In addition, an agent cannot perform services that require specialized know-how, such as medicine, landscaping, or beauty services. Agents must act as fiduciaries – in other words, they must adhere to a certain code of conduct, and uphold a certain level of trust. If they do not, they may face both civil and criminal prosecution.
Call A Florida Power of Attorney Lawyer
If you do not want to perform a certain action, or fear that you may be too incapacitated to perform a needed action, having a power of attorney can help to ease your mind – but it must be executed properly. The Naples power of attorney lawyers at the Nici Law Firm are well versed in these cases, and will work hard to make sure yours has an appropriate outcome. Contact our offices today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.