Florida Power of Attorney Law Changes On October 1, 2011

A Power of Attorney is a legal document delegating authority from one person to another granting that person the right to act on behalf of the maker of the Power of Attorney. What authority is granted depends on the specific language of the Power of Attorney. A person giving a Power of Attorney can make it very broad or can limit the Power of Attorney to certain specific acts.

Starting October 1, 2011, new Chapter 709 governing Powers of Attorney will be effective. Powers of attorney executed after the effective date of the Act must be signed by the principal and by two subscribing witnesses, and be acknowledged by the principal before a notary public. A power of attorney executed before October 1, 2011 is valid if its execution complied with the laws of Florida at the time it was executed.

The problem we see with relying on an outdated Power of Attorney is that it will subject to question by third parties at the time that the person named in the Power of Attorney as the "Agent" tries to exercise their authority.

The new Act provides that there are certain authorities that the agent may exercise only if the principal signs or initials next to the specific enumeration of the authority in the power of attorney, such authority is consistent with the agent’s duties and the exercise is not otherwise prohibited by another instrument – so the new Power of Attorney will be much more detailed than the documents that have been used in the past.

Powers of Attorney have generated  claims and litigation related to abuse.  Examples of Abuse of a Power of Attorney can include:

●      fraud

●      self dealing

●      embezzlement

●      unlawful gifting, often of gifts to the Agent, by the Agent

●      depletion of an estate

●      changing beneficiary designations on life insurance or annuities

●      opening bank accounts with joint title or pay on death provisions in favor of the agent.

Clearly your choice of an Agent is extremely important.

About pickenlaw

Gregory C. Picken, J.D., LL.M. has practiced law in Florida for thirty years, and has been associated with the firm of Gary, Dytrych & Ryan since 1998.