How Can I Limit My Florida Power of Attorney?
Many people are put off by the idea of a Florida Power of Attorney because they fear giving someone else complete control of their property and finances. But powers of attorney are not an all-or-nothing proposition. To the contrary, you are free to grant as many, or as few, powers to your agent as you deem proper. And in some cases, Florida law actually requires your specific consent before a power of attorney can perform certain actions on your behalf.
General vs. Limited Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney may be either general or limited in nature. A general power of attorney is one that is broad-by-design, i.e. it grants the agent wide discretion over your affairs. In contrast, a limited power of attorney is just what the name suggests–a grant of authority to an agent that is limited to certain actions or subjects.
Basically, you can use a limited power of attorney to grant an agent the authority to carry out a specific task. A common use of a limited power of attorney is buying or selling real estate. For instance, say you just put your vacation home in Fort Myers up for sale. Now you have to take a business trip that will keep you out of the state for several weeks. To prevent any delay in selling your home, you can sign a limited power of attorney granting your agent the authority to close the sale and sign a deed transferring the property to the buyers.
Note that the limited power of attorney has no effect outside of those acts you specify. In other words, just because you give someone a limited power of attorney to sell your house, that does not allow them to close your checking account or create a new estate plan for you. The agent’s authority is strictly limited in time and scope.
Protecting Your Estate Plan from Unauthorized Changes
Even with a general power of attorney, there are still some specific acts your agent cannot perform without additional authorization. Florida law expressly requires you to separately sign or initial your authorization before an agent may perform any of the following acts under a power of attorney:
- create a living trust in your name;
- amend, revoke, or terminate an existing trust;
- create or change a beneficiary designation for one of your assets, such as a retirement account;
- create or alter any rights of survivorship; and
- disclaim any property or powers of appointment.
Basically, your agent cannot control your estate plan in any way unless you make it explicitly clear they are permitted to do so. This is an important legal protection, as there would be little point to making an estate plan in the first place if someone holding your power of attorney could simply rip up everything and start over again.
If you have any further questions or concerns about how to limit the authority of an agent under a power of attorney, contact the Fort Myers estate planning lawyers at the Kuhn Firm, P.A., at 239-333-45429 today.