A power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document you make that gives someone authority to act as your agent in certain areas of your life that are specified in the document. In Florida, you must sign a POA before two witnesses, and all signatures must be notarized.
Power of Attorney in Florida
If you are making a power of attorney in Florida, you are termed the principal. You are giving authority to someone else to act for you in certain situations, and that person is called the agent or the attorney-in-fact. Both principal and agent must be mentally competent adults, 18 years old or older to create a valid POA in Florida.
Although you will find lots of forms for Florida POAs online, it's important to understand that the most important part of a POA is the grant of authority. As the principal, you have total control over the scope of the authority you are giving to your agent. You can draw up a Florida POA with very narrow authority or you can intend to give your attorney-in-fact broad powers. But be careful that the POA accurately describes the power you wish to confer. If you have any doubts, run the matter by an attorney before signing the document.
In Florida, a power of attorney with a narrow scope is a limited power of attorney. This type of POA gives the agent narrow authority to conduct a specific act. For example, you could create a limited power of attorney that gives someone only the specific power to transfer your car title to a buyer. On the other hand, Florida also enforces a general power of attorney. This type of POA is broader in scope and can even give someone power to handle all of your business and financial matters on your behalf.
A durable power of attorney in Florida allows your agent to act for you even after – or sometimes only after – you become incompetent. Regular powers of attorney expire when the principal becomes incompetent.
How to Get a Power of Attorney in Florida
To create a power of attorney, select an agent with care. Florida law considers your agent to be a fiduciary, which means she owes you the highest duty under the law. If this trust is violated, the agent can be sued civilly and also charged with a crime.
Once you have selected your agent and are satisfied with the scope of authority set out in the POA, you are ready to sign the Florida document. Each state has its own rules about how to sign a POA, and it will be invalid if you do not follow these rules. In Florida, a POA must be signed by the principal in front of two adult witnesses in the presence of a notary public. Generally a POA is immediately effective.