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What is a Florida Power of Attorney?

A Florida power of attorney is a legal form that acts as the authorization for an individual, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions, healthcare decisions, guardianship decisions, or estate decisions on behalf of the person granting this authority. A Florida POA is a useful tool often used during the estate planning process. Yet, there are other instances where a POA is a useful tool.

Quick Reference:

The person granting permission is referred to as the principal, donor, or grantor.

The person receiving authorization is known as the agent or the attorney-in-fact.

FL POA Laws:

A Florida power of attorney is a form that is in accordance with Florida’s state laws. While the power of attorney form does not need to be submitted to the court entity, it does, however, need to be written to comply with Florida’s statutes to be legally recognized by third party entities. While Florida statutes are lengthy, a few highlighted requirements are listed below:

  • An original copy of the power of attorney may be presented to the clerk of the circuit court to be recorded as a public record.
  • A photocopy of the power of attorney form has the same effect as the original.
  • Two or more co-agents may be designated who are to each act independently as long as it is in the principal's best interest.
  • An attorney-in-fact is entitled to reasonable compensation.
  • The principal must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The principal must be of sound mind and understand what they are signing.
  • The power of attorney must be signed by the principal in the presence of two witnesses.
  • A power of attorney must also be notarized.

Additionally, the Florida Bar offers an online consumer pamphlet that provides the requirements in plain English.

Additionally, the principal may specify which powers the agent has or doesn’t have. They may also revoke the power of attorney.

Finally, a non-durable power of attorney terminates when:

  • The principal dies
  • The principals makes the decision to revoke the power of attorney
  • The court decides the principal is partially or totally incapaciated
  • The purpose of the POA is fulfilled
  • The POA expires based on the date within the document

Why Would You Use a Florida Power of Attorney Form?

There are many reasons why someone would use a Florida power of attorney form to give another person the ability to make decisions related to their tangible personal property, financial transactions, financial institution transactions, tax matters, or their well-being. Some of those reasons include:

  • Age, mental health reasons, and illnesses. They may want their affairs handled in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone from those who are terminally ill to those in perfect health establish the proper powers of attorney to have their matters appropriately handled and their wishes fulfilled when necessary.
  • A person with a mental illness may require a different type of power of attorney than someone with a terminal illness.
  • A person with dependent children may require a different power of attorney than a person with no dependent children.

Each person’s power of attorney needs may vary. Thankfully, there are several types of power of attorney documents. Before you decide to get a power of attorney, you should seek legal advice. Ask about the best POA to suit your needs and how to revoke a power of attorney if it becomes necessary. Here are a few of the most common.

General Power of Attorney

According to the Florida Bar's consumer website, a general power of attorney must include specific instructions on what the agent may and may not do on behalf of the principal.

  • For example, it must state whether the agent has the authority to handle financial matters or buy and sell real estate. However, the principal's incapacity terminates a general power of attorney.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is an "extended version" of a general power of attorney because it goes beyond the parameters of a general power of attorney.

  • The term "durable" comes from the fact that this authorization continues even if incapacity of the principal occurs.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney has limited power to whatever the principal specifies.

  • In many cases, an agent will have power to make certain financial transactions or make medical decisions, but will not have authority to do other things such as sell property (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority ends if the principal becomes incapacitated or dies.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney is also known as a Designation of a Healthcare Surrogate. It is not the same as a living will. 

  • When it comes to Florida estate planning, both a medical power of attorney and a living will have their place. A medical power of attorney names an agent to make medical or health decisions on the principal’s behalf. However, they cannot make end of life decisions. A medical power of attorney can be revoked. The Florida Bar has an excellent consumer guide on the differences between a medical power of attorney and living wills.

Parent Power of Attorney

A parent power of attorney allows a parent or guardian to grant decision-making rights over their minor child (under 18 years of age) to a temporary guardian if the parent or guardian may not be present during a medical emergency.

  • This form is generally used if the parent must leave the country for a period of time or if the child is traveling with another adult.

Real Estate Power of Attorney

A real estate power of attorney allows the principal to designate an agent to buy, sell, or manage real estate on their behalf.

  • Speak with a lawyer to get legal advice to determine which type of POA is best for you. For example, if it is just for one piece of real estate, a limited POA may be perfect. If it is an on-going situation, a lawyer may help you determine if a general POA is better.

Tax Power of Attorney

Initiated by Form DR-835, this tax power of attorney form allows a capable individual, generally an accountant, to handle all tax preparation and submission needs on the principal’s behalf.

  • This may be done for an individual or a business. Depending on the size of one's estate, it might also be worth discussing the matter with an estate planning attorney.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney, (Form HSMV 82053), grants the agent the ability to handle all documents relating to the title and registration of the principal’s vehicle, mobile home, or boat.

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