In Palm Beach 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 specific situations, and under specific conditions. Power of attorney might be authorized 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 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 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, 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 truly become incapacitated. Presumably, if you are able to make and express your own medical decisions, you'll want to do it yourself.
In Palm Beach County, Florida, you can likely find pre-printed forms at office supply stores available for purchase. They already have the basic terms of a power-of-attorney agreement written, and just need the parties to fill in the blanks with names, dates, and a few other details.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Palm Beach County, Florida
In Palm Beach County, Florida, power of attorney can take three general forms. They are as follows:
1. Limited power of attorney - this is the most limited form of power of attorney. It lets the attorney-in-fact exercise his or her power once, and in only one instance (laid out by the principal, of course). This is regularly used in business deals, if it is not convenient for the actual party to a deal to be physically present for the signing of some documents, it can be done through an attorney-in-fact. You simply need to give them the right to sign the paperwork on your behalf, and it will be just as binding as if you had signed the documents yourself.
2. Durable power of attorney - unlike limited power of attorney, discussed above, this does not automatically expire, though the principal can stop it at any time. It is typically not limited to a single transaction, either. Rather, it covers a broader subject matter, though it still has limits. For instance, you could give someone durable power of attorney to make medical decisions for you, but they would only be permitted to act in that context.
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 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 determine the issue.
Can a Palm Beach County, Florida Lawyer Help?
Because there are sometimes confusing issues involved in setting up power of attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, you should consult with a lawyer beforehand. You can tell the lawyer all of the relevant details about your specific situation, and your goals, and he or she will be able to advise you on the best course of action.