Changes to Florida's Power of Attorney Law

Dean Hanewinckel

In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a revised bill which the Governor signed into law which drastically changed the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) in Florida. The law took effect on October 1, 2011 and applies to all Durable Powers of Attorney created after that date. Powers of Attorney that were created and signed prior to October 1, 2011, are still valid but are not interpreted the same as the new ones.

Some of the highlights of the new law are:

1. Certain sweeping powers granted to an agent - so-called "superpowers" - require special treatment. One example of a superpower is the ability to make gifts from the principal's funds. To grant an agent the ability to exercise a superpower, that superpower must be specifically mentioned in the DPOA, and that section of the document physically initialed by the principal.

2. If the principal desires that co-agents act only with the knowledge and consent of the others, the DPOA must specifically say so. If this provision is not included in the DPOA, it is assumed that each co-agent may act independently, without the knowledge or consent of the others.

3. The new law also states that banks and financial institutions must honor a photocopy or electronic copy of the signed DPOA. Again this only applies to the new form.

4.  The "springing" power of attorney, where the attorney-in-fact only has authority after a doctor certifies that the principal is incapacitated, is abolished.  All attorneys-in-fact now have authority to act as soon as the document is executed.

These are only a few of the changes in the law. If you have a Power of Attorney that is dated prior to October 1, 2011, we recommend that you contact our office. Also, please let family members and friends know about this change so that they can also update their estate planning documents.