Feb 9, 2023

How do I get power of attorney for my senior parent in Florida?

Manny Cominsky

Power of attorney is an incredibly important legal concept to be familiar with if you are paying for your own or a loved one’s senior care. Power of attorney is a legal mechanism whereby one individual (the principal) grants the legal authority to another individual (their agent or proxy) to do something on their behalf. Power of attorney can be used in any number of contexts, from helping someone sell a home or car to making important medical decisions on their behalf, and is a tool that is commonly used by adult children who are helping to manage finances for or otherwise take care of their senior parents. While power of attorney law is generally the same throughout the country, each state decides its own power of attorney laws and so it is important to consult a local attorney if you or a senior parent are considering signing or drafting a power of attorney document. Keep the following guidelines in mind if you are considering a power of attorney for a senior parent who lives in Florida.

What is power of attorney

Before diving into the specifics of Florida power of attorney law, it’s helpful to start with an overview of what power of attorney actually is. While many people might be familiar with power of attorney through the senior care context, power of attorney is actually a broad legal term that can apply in a variety of situations, depending on what the principal wants their agent to accomplish on their behalf. In some situations a power of attorney is for a project of incredibly limited scope and duration, such as when an adult child helps their senior parent to sell their home. In other cases, the power of attorney is more open-ended, such as when an adult child is given the responsibility to make on-going healthcare decisions for their adult parent.

It's important to talk with a local lawyer to find out how power of attorney can help you, as well as how to properly create a power of attorney.

Power of attorney is a common tool for adult children to help their parents once they have moved into senior living. Power of attorney can allow a senior living resident’s adult children to do any number of helpful tasks on their behalf, such as paying their monthly senior living rent or helping coordinate medical care.

Types of power of attorney in Florida

Florida recognizes several forms of power of attorney. Getting a feel for all the different options will help you and your senior parent come up with the power of attorney arrangement that is best for your particular situation.

Limited power of attorney

The first type of power of attorney recognized by Florida is the limited power of attorney. As its name implies, a limited power of attorney is used when someone needs a project of limited scope and duration accomplished on their behalf. A limited power of attorney may be useful for your senior parent if, for example, they needed you to sell a property that was out of state on their behalf.

General power of attorney

If your senior parent wants you to make business or financial decisions on their behalf, they will most likely need a general power of attorney (also called a financial power of attorney in Florida). Seniors generally create a general or financial power of attorney when they need assistance with things like paying the bills, filing taxes, or making withdrawals and deposits at the bank. While a general power of attorney will allow you to make financial decisions on your senior parents behalf, it won’t allow you to make any healthcare decisions. 

Medical power of attorney

In Florida a medical power of attorney is called a designation of health care surrogate and allows another individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Often times for seniors, these healthcare decisions include questions regarding treatment options like medication and surgery, or specifications for end of life care. A medical power of attorney in Florida must be signed by two witnesses, but unlike other power of attorney documents does not need to be notarized.

A medical power of attorney is a type of power of attorney that allows an individual to make medical and care based decisions on another person's behalf.

Durable power of attorney

Finally, Florida also recognizes a durable power of attorney. Under a non-durable power of attorney, if you become incapacitated the agent’s authority under the power of attorney agreement ceases to be in effect. If, however, it is a durable power of attorney, then the power of attorney remains in effect after the principal is incapacitated. Your senior parent might find a durable power of attorney appropriate as part of their estate planning, as it can be used to prepare for a situation where they fall ill and are not able to make their own decisions. In order for a power of attorney to be durable in Florida, it must contain the phrase “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in chapter 709, Florida Statutes” or some other similar phrase to show the intent for the power of attorney to be durable.

Creating a Florida power of attorney

The requirements for creating a valid power of attorney in Florida are similar to most other states. In order to create a valid power of attorney, your senior parent must be of sound mind, meaning that they understand the nature and consequences of what they are doing by signing a power of attorney document. Similarly, in order to be an agent under a Florida power of attorney, you must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. 

Once your senior parent has drafted their power of attorney document laying out who their agent will be and the scope and duration of what will be handled on their behalf, the next step is to sign the power of attorney document in front of two adult witnesses and a notary public who must also sign the document (unless it is a medical power of attorney, in which case a notary is not required). While not a legal requirement, it is generally a good idea to make sure that your witnesses are not “interested” individuals such as close family members, doctors, or people who would inherit something from your senior parent’s estate.

Power of attorney in another state

A common question we’re always hearing is what happens if my senior parents created their power of attorney when they lived in another state? This is a very common fact pattern as often times people will sign a power of attorney document pre-retirement, and then move to Florida after they retire. Generally, a power of attorney document signed out of state under another state’s laws will still be in force in Florida as long as it was properly executed in the state in which it was signed, and is executed in line with Florida law and the terms of the power of attorney document. However, there are certain circumstances that could make the out-of-state power of attorney invalid and so it is important to consult a local Florida attorney just to be certain.

One exception that is worth noting involves real estate transactions in Florida. Because real estate transactions in Florida require extra requirements where a power of attorney is concerned, a power of attorney signed in another state might not fulfill the necessary requirements for you to complete a real estate transaction on your senior parents behalf. While you should always consult a local Florida attorney if you are considering doing anything for your senior parent under a power of attorney, real estate transactions may be particularly worth investigating.   

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at info@sunboundhomes.com or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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