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Florida powers of attorney

When a person in Florida wishes to grant another the power to act on his or her behalf either generally or in a limited fashion, he or she may grant that authority through the preparation of a power of attorney. Examples of powers people choose to assign to others acting on their behalf include the ability to make medical or financial decisions.

There are many reasons why people may wish to grant a power of attorney over their affairs to an agent. Although the name implies differently, the person granted the power does not have to be a lawyer. The person who receives the authority to act on the principal's behalf can be a trusted friend or family member, and is referred to as the principal's agent or attorney-in-fact.

Because a power of attorney grants important powers to an agent to take care of the principal's affairs in a legal capacity, such as setting up trusts or signing contracts on their behalf, care should be taken when drawing up the document. When preparing it, two witnesses must be present to witness the principal's signature in the presence of a notary public.

Powers of attorney can be limited to certain things, broadly applicable as a general power of attorney or a durable power of attorney, which does not terminate in the event the principal is incapacitated. In order to sign or grant a power of attorney, the principal must be mentally competent to do so. Granting powerful legal capacity to another to act in one's behalf is an important consideration that should not be taken lightly. When considering doing so, people may wish to consult with an attorney who has experience with these types of documents and with the Florida laws that govern their scope and use.

Source: The Florida Bar, "Florida Power of Attorney Pamphlet", October 19, 2014

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