HOW POWERFUL IS YOUR POWER OF ATTORNEY?

One of the new laws passed by the Florida legislature this session makes
substantial changes to the Durable Power of Attorney Statute.  A Durable
Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a document in which you appoint someone to
legally act on your behalf.  Essentially, under a DPOA, an agent steps into your
shoes to handle your affairs.  Currently, DPOA’s can take effect immediately or
they can be “Springing,” meaning they do not take effect until the person
becomes incapacitated.

The new changes will take effect on October 1, 2011.  The good news is that
DPOA’s that were valid under Florida law before the effective date will remain
valid.  Some key provisions of the new law include:

  • Powers of Attorney must now be notarized as well as have two (2)
    witnesses for valid execution;
  • Powers of Attorney executed in other states are valid in Florida if validly
    executed in their state of origin;
  • Special rules are provided for co-attorneys-in-fact;
  • “Springing” Powers of Attorney are eliminated after the effective date,
    although Springing Powers executed before the effective date are still
    valid;
  • Certain Powers contained in the document must be initialed in order for
    the attorney-in-fact to perform such actions;
  • Only qualified people may get paid to serve as the attorney-in-fact; and
  • Much more specific standards of conduct must be followed by the
    attorney-in fact.


The new law also requires written notice with special notice for financial
institutions.  The DPOA statute also gives banks the power to make you obtain
a legal opinion that your POA is legally effective and it also gives the bank time
to review POA’s to determine if they will accept them.  The statute will require
the individual signing the DPOA to specifically initial certain powers if they want
their agent to be able to use those powers (such as banking and investment
transactions).  Thus, 
you can no longer have a blanket POA that grants
“any and all” powers to an agent.

If you have questions about your current Power of Attorney (or if you have had
any major life changes in the last 3 to 5 years), you should consult an attorney
to help you determine if you need to update same.