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Power of Attorney: Make Sure The Power Is In The Right Hands

How do you make sure the right decision get made on your behalf if your away?

Perhaps you are travelling out of the County and the kids are staying with Grandma.  You need to make sure grandma has the authority to make decisions on your behalf  in case of emergency.

There is a formal document you can create and execute that will give the power to grandma to make decisions on your behalf.

That document is called a Power of Attorney.

Now Florida has a specific law dealing with this issue. Florida Power of Attorneys are outlined in Florida Statutes Chapter 709. A Power of Attorney gives a person of your choosing the ability to step in to make decisions on your behalf. The person designated to make your decision is known as an Attorney-in-Fact.

The person creating the Power of Attorney is referred to as the Principal.  A Power of Attorney can be drafted to apply to the following:

  • Financials: An attorney-in-fact can be appointed to make all financial decisions for you to include: bank transactions, stock market decisions, the sale, purchase or transfer of real or personal property and more.
  • Legal Documents: An Attorney-in-fact can be appointed to make legal decisions for you. There are limitations, but generally, an Attorney-in-Fact may sign legal documents related to finances and various court related pleadings/documents on your behalf.
  • Childcare: You may appoint an Attorney-in-Fact to make decisions related to your children. These decisions can include healthcare decisions, school enrollment, extracurricular enrollment, travel and more. This document is generally titled a “Child Care Power of Attorney”. It can specify a period of time for which the Attorney-in-Fact may hold decision making authority. Many parents request this document for grandparents, a nanny, or during trips away from their children.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare decision making authority can also be delegated. Generally this is done is a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate document, as there are many provisions that need to be included when allowing someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. You want your Health Care Surrogate to have full access to medical records, doctors, pharmacy records and more.

A Power of Attorney is an extremely powerful document.

It is effective immediately upon executing it and giving it to your Attorney-in-Fact. Most individuals choose to only give their spouse this power. Many elderly individuals who need assistance with their financials choose a family member to take on the role of Attorney-in-Fact.

Bad things can happen if a Power of Attorney is placed in the hand of an untrustworthy individual. So beware.

A best practice is to specify the duration of the Power of Attorney.

  • If a duration is not specified and you wish to revoke the Power of Attorney, a Revocation of Power of Attorney can be drafted, signed and sent to your Attorney-in-Fact. Many individuals choose to file their Power of Attorney and any Revocations with the court.
  • A Power of Attorney is also revoked upon the death of the Principal or his/her incapacitation if the Power of Attorney is not Durable.
  • If the Power of Attorney has served its purpose, then it is revoked. For example, if Bob appointed a Power of Attorney for the sale of his home and the sale is completed the Power of Attorney is no longer in effect and considered revoked.

 

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