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What are the Different Types of Power of Attorney in Florida?

There may eventually be situations, such as your own incapacity or some other circumstance, in which you would like a trusted person to have the ability to make decisions or take actions on your behalf. A Florida power of attorney allows you to create this arrangement by designating someone as your agent for general or specific purposes.

Under Florida law, an agent can be any person over 18 or a financial institution that does business in the state and is authorized to conduct trust business here. To be valid, the power of attorney (must be signed by the creator (known as the principal) and two witnesses, at the same time and in the presence of a notary public. (The notary can serve as one of the witnesses.)

In Florida, you can create the following types of power of attorney. The differences among them are mostly related to the scope of authority you give your agent:

  • Durable power of attorney — Durable powers of attorney are used for estate planning purposes for assets that are outside of a trust. This power of attorney allows your agent to act on your behalf even after you become incapacitated. For example, if you fall into a coma, your agent can still make financial decisions on your behalf and handle your bills and other financial issues. The power can be general or specific in scope and certain powers such as the right to do Medicaid planning must be itemized and initialed in order to be valid.
  • General power of attorney — This broad grant of authority allows your agent to perform financial transactions on your behalf. Examples include depositing and withdrawing money from bank accounts, buying or selling real estate, paying bills and signing obligations and agreements. This power of attorney expires when you become incapacitated, unless it is expressly made durable.
  • Limited or special power of attorney — This is a narrow grant of authority to an agent to perform specific tasks within a limited time period. For example, if you purchase a piece of property but will be out of the country on the closing date, you can designate an agent to complete the closing for you. This power of attorney ends once the task is finished or the time period expires.
  • Springing power of attorney — These were removed from Florida law in 2011 but those created before 2011 are still valid. “Springing” means they take effect automatically when the creator becomes incapacitated. .

It is important to see your estate planning attorney given the variety in powers of attorney so that you obtain the document that will serve you in time of need. Powers of attorney in Florida are primarily used for financial transactions for assets held outside of a trust. While a power of attorney can grant an agent the ability to make decisions regarding your health care, Florida offers a Designation of Health Care Surrogate document that is typically more suited for this purpose.

Bankier, Arlen & Snelling Law Group, PLLC in Delray Beach assists clients throughout Broward County and Palm Beach County with all aspects of estate planning, including creating powers of attorney that coordinate with your will, revocable trust and other estate planning documents. To arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call M. Adam Bankier at 561-278-3110, Robert M. Arlen, Esq. at 561-279-1880 or Linda L. Snelling, Esq. at 561-501-7778 or contact us online today.

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