A document that can designate someone to act on your behalf under specific circumstances is called a power of attorney. There are limited and unlimited powers of attorney that have different uses. Although you can find online fill-in-the-blank options to specify your wishes, most recommend conferring with a lawyer.
Different types of powers of attorney are useful for differing circumstances. For example, if you send your child to camp, you might file a limited medical power of attorney naming the camp as the responsible party for your child’s medical needs. On the other hand, suppose you are undergoing major surgery with an unknown prognosis. In that case, you might institute a power of attorney designating someone to make decisions during your recovery period. Whatever your reasons for needing a power of attorney, a Melbourne power of attorney lawyer from Bogin, Munns & Munns can guide you.
The Purpose of a Power of Attorney
Powers of Attorney (POA) are an integral part of estate planning. Still, they can also help provide temporary decision-making power for necessary things such as child and medical care.
A POA grants another person (the agent) the ability to act on your behalf. For example, as the principal, you might authorize another to make financial or medical decisions for you.
For financial matters, a power of attorney could include access to all bank accounts, investments, and other financial tools, including the right to incur debt and write checks against the principal’s accounts. Each power of attorney should detail the duties of the agent. The agent should always make decisions based on the principal’s best interests.
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Understanding the Requirements for a Power of Attorney
To be considered a legal, enforceable document, a power of attorney must have signatures from the principal, two witnesses to the signing, and the seal of a notary. Military POAs and those created in other states might have exemptions and remain valid in Florida.
Each power of attorney should name the principal, the agent, and third parties.
The principal is the originator of the power of attorney. A POA is a legal authorization. For example, you designate another person or entity to maintain control of certain parts of your financial holdings or make medical decisions on your behalf.
The agent for a power of attorney is the person or entity designated to act for the principal. Although the agent can sometimes be referred to as “attorney-in-fact,” they are not lawyers. Instead, the principal can select a law firm to act for them, which can be helpful for estate matters.
Any individual that the agent has authorized dealings with should be listed as a third party. The list can include banks, doctors, financial brokers, and other entities the agent will contact to execute the POA’s assigned responsibilities.
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Different Types of Powers of Attorney
Each type of POA has a purpose. They can be limited or unlimited. A limited power of attorney defines specific duties and responsibilities of the agent. An unlimited power of attorney contains no restrictions on the duration or scope of the order.
Suppose language is included in an unlimited power of attorney to cover circumstances where the principal may become incapacitated. In that case, it is considered a durable power of attorney. The incapacitation can be physical or mental, and a power of attorney remains in effect throughout the disability period.
Limited Power of Attorney
Limited powers of attorney are helpful when you need assistance for a specific period or only with particular tasks. Each document will specify the following:
- The task or responsibilities expected of the agent
- Duration, with beginning and end dates if applicable
- Limits (things the agent cannot do under the POA)
An example of this type of power of attorney is a document authorizing a stay-over summer camp to administer medical care to your child while attending camp.
General Power of Attorney
General powers of attorneys are more expansive and allow your agent to perform various responsibilities on your behalf. Therefore, the document must include a listing of the specific duties that the agent will be tasked with.
Medical Power of Attorney
Medical powers of attorney are often seen in the healthcare realm, authorizing your agent the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. The necessity may be a reduced state of awareness due to medications or treatment or as a precaution against declining mental capacity due to illness.
An extensive medical POA can be very similar to a living will in that it permits your agent to make medical decisions regarding your care. You can designate your agent to act on your behalf and in your best interest for medical decisions. This type of POA could be a part of your advanced directives or estate plan. Health care POAs should conform to the specifications of Florida Statute §765.202.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable powers of attorney can be helpful during periods you may be incapacitated or unavailable to make immediate decisions. Although they are often part of an end-of-life or estate plan, they have many other uses.
Durable POAs are the most type of POA. They will typically specify what the agent has control or decision-making authority over and include an end date or expiration. They remain in effect until the selected date unless the principal files a revocation.
Under Florida law, a POA may not remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated unless the POA contains specific verbiage covering incapacitation.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney places care and control of financial accounts with the agent. Depending on the complexity of the document, it can be all-encompassing or very limited in scope. The principal may specify precisely what financial transactions the agent can perform.
For instance, you might enact a financial POA if you have someone housesitting while you winter in Florida. The POA allows the agent to pay all utility bills with access to a specific bank account and authorizes them to contact utility companies on your behalf for necessary repairs. You would not give them blanket control over all your fiduciary interests and the ability to sell your property.
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Discuss Your Needs with a Power of Attorney Lawyer in Melbourne
Bogin, Munns & Munns can help if you need a Melbourne power of attorney lawyer. Whether you need a short-term, limited POA or something more expansive, we will discuss your needs. We will formulate a POA that protects you and your agent while permitting all the actions you need performed. Contact us today to get started.