A power of attorney (POA) is a valuable legal tool for estate planning purposes. This legal document permits you (the principal) to delegate authority to another person (the agent) to act on your behalf under specific circumstances.
Generally, POAs become effective when the principal is temporarily or permanently incapacitated. What about the duration of a POA? Is there an ideal timeframe for this type of legal tool? Keep reading to find out.
How Long is a Power of Attorney Good for in Florida? – The Basics
Determining the expiration date of a POA depends on how the document was originally drafted. Essentially, a POA does not have a statutory expiration date, as the principal is responsible for setting an expiration date if it suits his or her particular situation.
To understand the options available, one should know the main types of Florida POAs – durable power of attorney, non-durable power of attorney, and springing power of attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney
In a durable power of attorney, the agent’s authority to act on the principal’s behalf continues if he or she becomes incapacitated. For instance, if the principal fells into a coma, the agent may continue to handle the principal’s affairs under the document’s provisions.
Unless the document expressly provides otherwise, Florida courts tend to presume that a POA is durable. Therefore, the principal must include specific language to state whether he or she wants the POA to be durable to avoid confusion.
Non-Durable Power of Attorney
Under a non-durable POA, the agent’s authority to act on the principal’s behalf is terminated in the event of incapacitation. Usually, non-durable POAs are not used in estate planning. Instead, they are used when the principal can execute a task but cannot perform it due to other reasons.
For instance, a real estate investor may execute a non-durable POA granting authority to an agent to close a transaction on his or her behalf in another state.
Springing Power of Attorney
Under a springing POA, the principal only grants authority to the agent if a specific condition is met. Until the condition is met, the agent has no legal authority to handle the principal’s affairs.
Therefore, the agent’s authority “springs” into effect only if the condition established by the document is wholly satisfied. Although it is possible to set up a springing POA for estate planning, it is not a recommendable approach.
Florida Power of Attorney – Is It Possible to Revoke the Document?
If the principal has a sound mind, he or she can terminate the agent’s authority under a POA at any given time. In such cases, the principal may sign a separate document to revoke the powers previously granted to the agent.
Also, it is possible to execute a new POA naming a different person as the agent. Therefore, the previous POA is revoked and only the new agent has authority under the new agreement.
In any case, a POA automatically expires upon the principal’s death. When the principal passes away, any POA becomes null and void. Therefore, the agent no longer has the authority to manage the principal’s affairs.
To designate someone to administer his or her estate upon death, the principal must use a will to name a personal representative or set up a trust to designate a trustee.