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What Are an Agent’s Requirements in a Florida Power of Attorney?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Fort Lauderdale estate planning lawyerFor seniors or others who need assistance with various areas of their lives, a power of attorney can often be a good solution. A person who creates this type of legal agreement is known as the “principal” of a power of attorney, and they will designate one or more “agents” who will have the authority to make certain types of decisions. Powers of attorney may be used to address multiple types of decisions, but they will often focus on the management of the principal’s property, assets, and financial affairs. For decisions related to medical treatment and personal care, a health care surrogate may be appointed, although a power of attorney may also be used to address these issues. Those who are named as agents in powers of attorney will need to understand their requirements and responsibilities.

Duties of an Agent in a Florida Power of Attorney

The state statutes in Florida detail the requirements that apply to agents. To be an agent, a person must be at least 18 years old. Their authority may take effect immediately after a power of attorney is signed in the presence of two witnesses, or an agreement may specify the date or circumstances in which they will assume authority. If the principal chooses to do so, multiple individuals or financial institutions may be named as co-agents, or a successor agent may be named who will assume authority if the original agent dies, becomes incapacitated, resigns, or declines to be an agent. An agent is entitled to reimbursement for any expenses incurred as they carry out their duties.

A power of attorney may give an agent broad authority to handle financial matters on behalf of the principal, or the agent may be limited to certain types of decisions. An agent may manage different types of income, pay any necessary expenses, conduct transactions, apply for benefits, access the principal's accounts or safe deposit boxes, and address multiple other financial concerns.

When dealing with financial matters, an agent will be required to act in good faith and uphold the best interests of the principal. This includes preserving the principal’s property while meeting their needs and addressing their obligations, minimizing the taxes paid by the principal or their estate, and conducting affairs as the principal would, such as by considering their history of making gifts to others. An agent should also keep recipes and records of transactions, maintain an inventory of any safe deposit boxes they access, follow the same level of care and diligence as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances, and work together with a health care surrogate to address the principal’s needs.

An agent must also avoid conflicts of interest or any other situations where they may breach their fiduciary duty toward the principal. If a breach of fiduciary duty occurs, the agent may be liable for the losses suffered by the principal or their estate as a result. However, an agent will not be liable for reductions in value of the principal’s property if they can show that they acted in good faith with the intent to preserve the principal’s estate.

Contact Our Wilton Manors Power of Attorney Lawyer

Powers of attorney may be relatively simple agreements, or they may be complex documents detailing exactly what an agent can and cannot do. Anyone who is named as an agent will need to make sure to understand their rights and obligations, and they must make sure they are following their duties correctly. At Law Office of Miller & Miller, P.A., our Oakland Park estate planning attorney can help create power of attorney agreements that will ensure that a principal’s wishes will be followed correctly, and we can answer any questions a principal or agent may have about how an agreement affects them. Contact our firm today at 954-981-9301 to discuss these matters in a free consultation and get help with the estate planning process.



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