Who Needs a Power of Attorney?
I create a lot of Power of Attorney (POAs) documents—and I talk a lot of folks who don’t really need one out of signing one. The worst, however, is untangling the legal mess that follows a POA that has been misused. A POA is a legally binding document. If you are creating one for yourself, you are potentially signing away a lot of independence. If you are agreeing to serve as a POA for another person, you are signing on for a big responsibility. Many times both are necessary—if that is your situation, just understand what you are signing, before you sign.
What is a Power of Attorney?
When you give Power of Attorney (POA) to another, you give an individual or institution (an agent) of your choosing the written right to act on your behalf. That’s a big responsibility and Florida statutes place some restrictions, including:
A. A POA must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary.
B. To serve as a POA or agent, you must be a natural person, at least 18 years old OR a financial institution that has trust powers, a place of business in the state and is authorized to conduct business in the state.
There are different POAs for different purposes
1. A Healthcare POA* gives an agent power over your healthcare decisions.
2. A General POA gives an agent power over financial or contractual matters, usually for a set amount of time. (You might use a general POA if you are heading out of the country and need an agent to pay bills or make investments.)
3. A Durable Power of Attorney stays in place if the principal loses mental capacity or cannot act on his or her own.
Bottom line, creating a power of attorney gives written power to one person (the agent) to act for another. Whether you are serving as an agent for someone else or need an agent to assume responsibility for you, a POA is serious business with far-reaching legal consequences in the event of misuse. It is important to understand which one best meets your specific needs. Online legal sites offer the forms, but don’t always fill in every gap you need to make a strong decision.
Please remember that this blog and information on this website is in no way meant to provide legal advice but rather meant for educational purposes only.
For more information about a POA that will best meet your need, give Miller Law, P.A. a call at 863-688-7038.
That’s all for now,
*A Healthcare POA is different than a Healthcare Surrogate, who is appointed for you in the event you become unable to make healthcare decisions. Both are different from a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Living Will.