Understanding Powers of Attorney in Florida

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants authority to one person over another, primarily providing the ability to make medical or financial decisions on the party’s behalf, or in the event that they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves.

A Power of Attorney’s power/reach goes only as far as the person giving it specifies. For instance, a Power of Attorney may give the receiving party the ability to only sell specific property, or it may grant authority to access all bank accounts or make life-altering medical decisions on behalf of the principal. These specifications are often limited by the type of Power of Attorney given by the principal.

3 Types of Power of Attorney

The state of Florida recognizes three types of Power of Attorney:

  • General Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Limited Power of Attorney

The most popular and broadest category of Power of Attorney is the General POA. A general POA gives the agent a far-reaching authority, allowing them to authorize any legal act over the principal, as specified in the verbiage of the document itself.

A Durable POA is the only Power of Attorney that grants the agent authority over the principal in the event that they become incapacitated. These POA’s should be worded very carefully, and only given to individuals that you trust to make life-changing medical decisions on your behalf.

The Limited POA gives the agent permission to govern a specified act, such as selling a home, or distributing money from a trust fund.

Power of Attorney and Estate Planning

Many people hesitate about getting a Durable Power of Attorney if they have a living Will in place. However, we simply cannot plan for everything. Having a Durable POA will allow you to have a trustworthy individual on your side to make crucial decisions on your behalf. For instance, they can make decisions regarding medical treatment if you are unable to do so, and serve as your advocate if there are issues with your living Will or questions regarding your medical preferences.

It is also important to designate a POA so that should your medical bills skyrocket, they are able to access your accounts and trusts to pay for any treatment you might need, or liquidate your assets to cover costs.  

Contact Us

If you’re considering granting someone Power of Attorney, or want to discuss your current POA, you should consult with a Florida estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can provide guidance in wording the POA so that it covers everything you need it to, giving you and your agent peace of mind.

Our firm offers a free initial consultation with staff who are well-versed in the ever-changing Florida probate law. Give us a call  at (305) 358-1771 or contact us so we can help you start planning today.

Luis E. Barreto