In Martin County, Florida, power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person (the principal) gives another (the attorney-in-fact) the capacity to act on the principal's behalf in certain situations, and under certain conditions. Power of attorney might be authorized for any number of reasons, but it is most often 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 authorized, and it's simply not feasible to totally eliminate this possibility. It can be minimized, however, by giving the attorney the bare minimum amount of power 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 authorizing power of attorney, you can generally 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, if you have very particular desires for your end-of-life care, but are worried that you won't be able to express your wishes when the time comes, you can grant someone power of attorney in advance, so they'll be able to ensure that your wishes are carried out, if necessary. You should draft an agreement giving the attorney-in-fact power of attorney only in the event that you actually become incapacitated. Presumably, if you are able to make and express your own medical decisions, you'll want to do it yourself.
Generally, you can find forms in Martin County, Florida that let you quickly draft a power of attorney document. However, if a large amount of money is at stake, or you wish to grant very particular and limited powers, you should probably consult with a lawyer beforehand.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Martin County, Florida
There are 3 basic arrangements that power of attorney can involve in Martin County, Florida. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - this allows 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 happening 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 finalize 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, completing the deal. The power you've granted them would expire automatically once the deal is done.
2. Durable power of attorney - this lets an attorney-in-fact make decisions in a certain, defined area of the principal's affairs. Durable power of attorney doesn't automatically disappear, and can last indefinitely, or until the principal revokes it. This can be very useful, because it allows the attorney-in-fact to make critical decisions for the principal, but allows the principal to revoke the power if they regain the capacity to make their own decisions.
3. Springing power of attorney - this is close to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some specific event takes place. This event can be anything. Most often, however, the agreement allows 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 actually "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to determine the issue.
Can a Martin County, Florida Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always easy in Martin County, Florida, it's never imprudent to at least consult with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.