When you name an agent and sign a power of attorney, you give the agent the authority to act on your behalf. You, as the maker of the power of attorney, are the principal. Estate probate attorneys and business law attorneys draft a power of attorney for their clients as part of estate plans. In some cases, it is also done as part of setting up a client’s new business. Note: to be valid, your signature on this paperwork must be notarized. Additionally, you must have two witnesses to your signature.
Power of Attorney Types
Florida has three main types of a power of attorney: limited, general, and durable.
Limited Power of Attorney
This type of power of attorney gives your agent the authority to handle one specific transaction. For example, you might have a closing on a house, but you live in a different state. This type can be created for a trusted relative or friend to sign any documents required for the closing.
General Power of Attorney
This type of power of attorney gives your agent the authority to handle any of the types of transactions you list in the general power of attorney. In most cases, you would use this for financial transactions. This type ends if you become incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney
If you need a power of attorney to stay in effect should you become incapacitated, then you need a durable power of attorney. This is the most common type. You can have a durable power of attorney for health care or for financial matters.
Uses for a Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can’t do it yourself. Always choose an agent that you know will comply with your wishes. These powers could include withholding or withdrawing tube nourishment, life support, or making a decision of when you should or should not be resuscitated.
The financial power of attorney is for any type of transaction other than health care. Some of the powers you can grant your agent include:
- Buying and selling real estate
- Buying and selling personal property
- Managing your bank accounts
- Paying your bills
- Signing a contract on your behalf
- Handling other financial transactions, including retirement account transactions
- Signing legal documents for the principal
You can also grant the ability to file bankruptcy on your behalf, but you must add a specific and separate clause to the power of attorney to grant this authority to your agent.
Additionally, if you add “the authority to conduct banking transactions as provided in Florida Statutes §709.2208(1),” your agent has the authority to conduct any of the banking transactions listed in the statute without you having to list each type of transaction. Florida Statutes §709.2208(2) grants the same powers for investment transactions.
These powers include opening and closing bank accounts in your name, endorsing your checks, applying for debit cards, using your credit cards or line of credit in your name, buying and selling investments, opening or closing investment accounts in your name, voting in person or by proxy on investment instruments, and more.
What an Agent Cannot Do
You cannot authorize an agent to complete certain transactions or actions. These include practicing law on your behalf, signing affidavits swearing to knowledge of facts on your behalf, creating an estate plan or any part of an estate plan, and performing personal services the principal was under contract for.
Contact France Law
Creating a power of attorney is something those over 18 years of age should do to help protect themselves in the event of an accident or illness that leaves you incapacitated. An estate planning attorney or the business attorneys at France Law can help you create a power of attorney for health care and/or for the financial transactions that you approve. Contact our office for a consultation. 850.224.1040