A power of attorney is a legally binding document authorizing another person to deal with all or some of your affairs. The terms of a power of attorney vary according to individual circumstances. Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes (the Florida Power of Attorney Act) sets out the law relating to powers of attorney in the state. These laws were amended with an effective date of October 1, 2011, and the new provisions apply to powers of attorney signed on or after this date.
Formation of a Power of Attorney
The person who creates the document is known as the principal; the person whom he authorizes is known either as the agent or the attorney-in-fact. The principal must sign the power of attorney in the presence of two independent witnesses who should also sign. The principal should then acknowledge the document before a notary public. Section 709.2113 of the Florida Statutes provides that the agent accepts appointment by carrying out the duties set out in the power of attorney or by any other conduct that indicates acceptance.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney continues in force even if the principal becomes mentally unable to make his own decisions. As of October, 2011, durable powers of attorney come into force immediately upon signing. According to Section 709.2105 of the Florida Statutes, an agent may be an individual over age 18 or a financial institution that is authorized to conduct trust business in the state of Florida.
Duties of the Agent
Section 709.2114 sets out the duties of the agent and states that an agent may act only within the authority granted in the power of attorney. In addition, an agent should act in good faith and in the interests of the principal. Agents should keep records of all expenses and payments made on behalf of the principal.
Recognition of Powers of Attorney
Section 709.2106 of the Florida Statutes states that powers of attorney legally signed in other states are valid in Florida. If an organization such as a bank is unsure about the validity of a power of attorney from another state, it can ask for an opinion from a legal counsel to confirm that it has been properly signed. According to Section 709.2105 (5), a photocopy or electronic version of an original power of attorney is as effective as an original.