Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives one person the authority to act on behalf of another as that person’s “agent.” The person who grants the Power of Attorney is known as the “Principal,” and can make this authority as broad or as narrow as he or she would like. For example, Power of Attorney may be as limited to merely giving the agent the authority to sell property out of state (often called “Limited Power of Attorney”), or as expansive as permitting the agent to perform any legal act for the principal (known as “General Power of Attorney”).
In doing so, the agent must act as the principal’s “fiduciary,” acting in the principal’s best interests. This includes not only restricting actions to those within the actual scope of the Power of Attorney, but also acting in a way that does not go against what the principal would reasonably expect the agent to do on his behalf. See Fla. Stat. § 709.2114(1).
Because a significant amount of authority can be granted pursuant to a Power of Attorney, not only the creation of the Power of Attorney should be taken into account, but its termination should be considered as well. But when does the Power of Attorney terminate in Florida? This relationship automatically ends when any of the following occurs:
1. The principal dies;
2. The principal becomes incapacitated, if the power of attorney is not durable (“Durable Power of Attorney” generally remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated);
3. The principal is adjudicated totally or partially incapacitated by a court, unless the court determines that certain authority granted by the power of attorney is to be exercisable by the agent;
4. The principal revokes the power of attorney;
5. The power of attorney provides that it terminates;
6. The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished;
7. The agent’s authority terminates and the power of attorney does not provide for another agent to act under the power of attorney;
8. The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, resigns, or is removed by a court;
9. An action is filed for the dissolution or annulment of the agent’s marriage to the principal or for their legal separation, unless the power of attorney otherwise provides.
See Fla. Stat. § 709.2109. When any of the above occurs, unless the Power of Attorney specifically provides otherwise, it is immediately terminated. Once the Power of Attorney has terminated and the agent knows of the termination, any additional actions he or she takes on behalf of the principal are no longer under the authority of the Power of Attorney.
If you or someone you know is interested in assigning a Power of Attorney, or is considering a Power for Attorney but would like additional information on the topic, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced estate planning and probate litigation attorneys at Chepenik Trushin LLP who are ready, willing, and able to take care of all of your estate planning and probate litigation needs.