Our Clearwater Estate Planning Attorney Explains the Power of Attorney
In general, a power of attorney is an instrument in writing that authorizes another to act as one’s “agent” and specifies which acts or kinds of acts that agent may perform. The person who creates the power of attorney in another is called the “principal,” and the agent is sometimes alternately referred to as the “attorney in fact.” As a Clearwater estate planning attorney can tell you, Florida law allows two general categories of powers of attorney: (i) powers of attorney for financial matters and (ii) powers of attorney for health reasons.
Powers of Attorney for Financial Reasons
These powers of attorney are either general (full) or special (limited). General powers of attorney allow the agent to act in place of the principal on essentially any financial dealing that the principal could conduct on his or her own behalf. Be warned, however: these are very broad powers. Under Florida law, a general power of attorney may be either durable or non-durable. A durable power of attorney continues in effect should the principal become incompetent, whereas a non-durable power of attorney terminates upon a finding of the principal’s incompetence. A general power of attorney can be terminated at any time if the principal is competent or language in the document can indicate a termination upon the occurrence of a specific event. Limited powers of attorney confer authority only for a specific purpose. For example, you may confer a limited power of attorney when you purchase an automobile so that the dealer can register it with the DMV. Immediately upon completion of the specific transaction, the power of attorney is terminated. To create a power of attorney for financial reasons, the principal must be of sound mind, must be an adult, and must sign the document creating the power of attorney before a notary.
Powers of Attorney for Healthcare Reasons
These powers of attorney may also be referred to as a “durable power of attorney for healthcare” or simply “medical power.” Two competent witnesses must sign this power of attorney and at least one must not be the agent, the principal’s doctor, or any heir, beneficiary, or other interested party of the principal’s estate. The agent is authorized to make healthcare decisions for the principal when he or she, due to a medical condition, cannot do so for his or herself. It is essential, as a Clearwater estate planning attorney cautions, that the principal make clear to the agent both the type of treatment the principal wishes to receive and that which should be refused.
Contact a Clearwater Estate Planning Attorney
For legal advice on your estate planning needs, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Clearwater estate planning attorney at Coleman Law Firm by calling (727) 461-7474.