In Clearwater, Florida, power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person (the principal) gives another (the attorney-in-fact) the ability to act on the principal's behalf in specific situations, and under specific conditions. Power of attorney might be granted for any number of reasons, but it is most frequently set up to allow the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions on the principal's behalf in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.
Any power-of-attorney arrangement creates the possibility that the attorney-in-fact will abuse the power he or she has been granted, and it's simply not feasible to completely eliminate this possibility. It can be minimized, however, by giving the attorney the bare minimum amount of authority needed to carry out your wishes, and making your wishes known in writing (with copies held by at least one other person) well in advance. When granting power of attorney, you can usually grant as much authority as you want, so you need to be very careful, and only give this legal authority to somebody you know and trust. Also, you should consider your circumstances and objectives when determining what type of power to grant.
For instance, some people have specific wishes, whether based on religion or personal preference, about how they should be cared for at the end of their life. Oftentimes, people who are at the end of their lives become unable to express their wishes. Consequently, it becomes necessary to have somebody else who knows what they would want, and has the legal authority to give effect to those wishes.
Sometimes, you can find pre-printed forms in Clearwater, Florida allowing you to easily draft a power of attorney document. In some cases, this may be all you need. These forms already have the basics of such an agreement committed to writing. All you and the other party have to do is fill in the blanks, per the instructions, and possibly have the forms notarized.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Clearwater, Florida
There are 3 general arrangements that power of attorney can involve in Clearwater, Florida. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - this permits the attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf on a single subject, in one instance. This is a good option if you are involved in a business transaction occurring in another state or country. Suppose you want to buy a house on the other side of the country, and just need to sign a few papers to complete the deal. Rather than incurring the expense of traveling there, you could give limited power of attorney to a third party who lives in that state, and they can sign the paperwork for you, finalizing the deal. The power you've granted them would expire automatically once the deal is done.
2. Durable power of attorney - this gives the attorney in fact the power to make decisions on a general area of the principal's affairs (for example, the power to access the principal's assets to pay the principal's debts, or the power to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal). Unlike limited power of attorney, durable power of attorney does not expire unless the principal revokes it. This is useful, because it permits the attorney-in-fact to make important decisions for the principal if the principal becomes incapacitated.
3. Springing power of attorney - this is similar to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some particular event takes place. This event can be anything. Most frequently, however, the agreement permits the attorney-in-fact to make important medical and financial decisions for the principal, only in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. However, there are sometimes disagreements over whether or not a person is truly "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to decide the issue.
Can a Clearwater, Florida Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always straightforward in Clearwater, Florida, it's never imprudent to at least speak with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.