When it comes to managing personal affairs, life can sometimes present circumstances that make it challenging for us to handle everything on our own. Whether it’s due to travel, illness, or other obligations, there may come a time when we need someone else to step in and act on our behalf.

A General Power of Attorney (POA) becomes an invaluable tool in these situations. The POA is a legal document that allows an individual, known as the principal, to appoint another person, called the attorney-in-fact or agent, to manage their affairs.

It offers a reliable way for you to ensure that your financial matters and other responsibilities continue to be managed effectively, even if you’re unable to do so yourself.

 

Step 1: Date

 

This part of the form establishes the date when the Power of Attorney is enacted. Filling this correctly is crucial as it records when the authority was given. This might be necessary for any future legal reference or if there are disputes about when the powers began.

Example: If you are completing this form on July 16, 2023, you will write “On the 16th day of July, 20_23_”

 

 

Step 2: State

 

Here you, as the principal, provide your full legal name and permanent address, including the state where you live.

It’s vital to indicate your official residence because legal documents can be heavily influenced by state law, and it determines which state’s laws will govern this agreement.

Example: If your name is John Doe, living in Miami, Florida, you would fill out this section as “John Doe, of Miami, State of Florida”

 

Step 3: Name and Address of Attorney-in-Fact

 

 

This part specifies who you appoint as your attorney-in-fact (also known as your agent). You need to provide their full legal name and address, including their state of residence. Choosing a trustworthy and competent person for this role is essential as they can decide on your behalf.

Example: If you are designating Jane Smith, who lives in Orlando, Florida, as your attorney-in-fact, this will read “hereby designate Jane Smith, of Orlando, State of Florida, my attorney-in-fact”

 

Step 4: Effective Date

 

 

This section defines when the powers granted to the attorney-in-fact become effective. The time these powers are enacted can significantly impact decision-making and financial management dynamics.

 

 

Step 5: Powers Of Attorney-in-fact

 

 

This section lists the powers that you can grant to your attorney-in-fact. You will be expected to put your initials next to each power you want your attorney to have.

You can select all, some, or none of these powers depending on your preference and the trust level you have in your agent.

 

Step 6: Banking

 

 

If you initial this field, you give your agent the power to conduct banking transactions on your behalf. This can include depositing checks, withdrawing money, or opening and closing accounts.

For instance, if you’re traveling or unable to handle your banking transactions, your attorney-in-fact could do so for you.

 

Step 7: Safe Deposit Box

 

 

By initializing here, you grant your attorney-in-fact the authority to access any safe-deposit box you rent or have access to, and to remove contents as needed. This might be useful when essential documents or items need to be retrieved and you’re not available to do so yourself.

 

Step 8: Lending Or Borrowing

 

This power allows your attorney-in-fact to make loans or borrow money in your name, which could involve using your assets as collateral.

For instance, if you’re purchasing a property and need to secure a loan, your agent could handle the borrowing process.

 

Step 9: Government Benefits

 

 

If you initial this line, your agent would have the authority to apply for and receive government benefits. This can be particularly helpful if you cannot manage these matters due to health reasons or absence.

 

Step 10: Retirement Plan

 

 

By initialing here, you’re authorizing your attorney-in-fact to manage your retirement plans or IRAs. They wouldn’t, however, have the power to change the beneficiary of these plans.

For instance, they can roll over an IRA or select payment options but cannot name a new beneficiary for their retirement plan.

 

 

Step 11: Taxes

 

 

This power gives your attorney-in-fact the ability to handle your tax matters, which includes completing and signing your tax returns, paying any due taxes, and receiving credits and refunds.

This could be beneficial if you’re uncomfortable handling tax matters or unable to do so yourself.

 

 

Step 12: Insurance 

 

 

Initialing this grants your attorney-in-fact the power to manage your various insurance policies, including purchasing new policies, paying premiums, and making claims.

They, however, cannot cash in or change the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

For instance, if you are incapacitated and unable to file a necessary claim on your homeowner’s insurance, your attorney-in-fact could manage this process.

 

Step 13: Real Estate

 

 

By marking this field, you give your attorney-in-fact the ability to handle transactions related to real property. This might include buying, selling, leasing, or managing necessary paperwork.

They can handle these tasks according to what they deem appropriate.

For instance, if you’re living overseas and need to sell your property in Florida, your attorney-in-fact could manage the process on your behalf.

 

Step 14: Personal Property

 

 

This power allows your attorney-in-fact to handle personal property transactions, including buying, selling, or transferring property or any property interests.

For example, if you have a valuable art collection and need to sell it, your attorney-in-fact could manage the sales process.

 

Step 15: Power To Manage Property

 

 

By initialing here, you give your attorney-in-fact the authority to manage, maintain, and deal with any real or personal property you own now or might acquire. They can take actions they deem appropriate for your benefit.

For instance, if you own rental property, your attorney-in-fact could manage tenant issues, repairs, or leasing agreements.

 

Step 16: Stocks And Bonds

 

This power allows your attorney-in-fact to handle investment transactions related to stocks and bonds as described in the Florida Statutes. This could include buying, selling, or managing these investments.

For example, if you own stocks and need to sell some for financial reasons, your attorney-in-fact could handle the transactions on your behalf.

 

Step 17: Commodities And Options

 

By marking this, you give your attorney-in-fact the ability to manage commodities and options transactions.

This could include buying and selling futures contracts, exercising options, and managing accounts related to these activities.

For instance, if you actively trade in the commodities market but cannot manage your transactions, your agent could handle this on your behalf.

 

Step 18: Gifts

 

 

This power allows your attorney-in-fact to make gifts or other transfers of your property without any consideration. They can give to anyone they select, including themselves.

They can also complete charitable pledges you’ve made, or advance a bequest or devise to beneficiaries under your will.

For instance, if you make annual gifts to family members for tax purposes, your attorney-in-fact could continue this practice on your behalf.

 

Step 19: Legal Advice And Proceedings

 

By initialing this, you authorize your attorney-in-fact to seek and pay for legal advice and to initiate or defend legal and administrative proceedings on your behalf.

For example, if someone filed a lawsuit against you, your attorney-in-fact could hire an attorney and handle the legal process.

 

Step 20: Special Instructions

 

 

This section is for you to provide any specific instructions that limit or extend the powers you’re granting to your attorney-in-fact. This could include specific tasks you do or do not want them to handle. If there are no additional instructions, write “None”.

For instance, you might write: “My attorney-in-fact is not authorized to sell my primary residence.”

 

Step 21: In Witness Whereof

 

Here, you’ll sign and date the document, affirming that you willingly execute this power of attorney. Be sure to fill in the blanks with the correct day and month.

For example, “I have on this 15th day of July 2023”.

 

Step 22: Witness’s Signature

 

 

After you sign, you’ll need two witnesses to sign the document. The witnesses must attest that you willingly sign the document, are over 18, are of sound mind, and are not under any constraint or undue influence. The witnesses will also need to provide their addresses.

Remember, witnesses should be individuals who aren’t directly involved in the power of attorney agreement. They should be people who can objectively attest to your capacity and willingness to sign this document.

 

Step 23: State

 

 

In this section, a notary public will acknowledge that you, the principal, appeared before them and signed this document. They will note whether you are physically present or appear via online notarization, and they will also note the date.

You’ll need to provide valid identification, and the notary public will document what kind of identification you used.

 Finally, the notary public will sign and note when their commission expires.

For instance, if your driver’s license were used for identification, that would be noted here.

 

Step 24: Specimen Signature And Acceptance Of Appointment

 

 In this blank, the attorney-in-fact writes their full legal name. The purpose here is to confirm their identity and willingness to act under the capacity outlined in the document.

For instance, “I, Jane Doe,” signifies Jane Doe’s acceptance of this responsibility.

 

Step 25: Attorney-in-Fact’s Signature

 

Here, the attorney-in-fact signs the document, formally accepting the appointment.

For example, Jane Doe would sign her name to affirm her acceptance of the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon her.

 

Step 26: State

 

Here, the Notary Public inserts the state where the notarization is taking place. It’s important because it establishes the jurisdiction in which the document is being executed, for example, “STATE OF FLORIDA.”

 

State 27: County

 

Let’s say the notarization is happening in Miami-Dade County. In this case, it would read “MIAMI-DADE County, ss.”

☐ physical presence or ☐ online notarization: Here, the notary checks the appropriate box indicating how the notarization process occurred. It’s important because it dictates the process used to verify the signee’s identity and their presence at the signing.

 

State 28: Date

 

In this space, the notary inputs the date of the notarization.

It could look something like “this 17th day of July, 2023.”

 

Step 29: Signature 

 

The name of the person whose signature they are notarizing goes in the first blank.

In the second blank, if the person is not personally known to the notary, the notary specifies the form of ID that was used for verification, for example, “Driver’s License.”

 

Step 30: Notary Public

 

Here, the notary public signs their name to make the document legally binding.

 

Step 31: Expiration Date

 

In this space, the notary states the date their notarial commission expires. This is key because it indicates that the notary is currently commissioned and has the authority to notarize the document.

For example, if the notary’s commission expires on December 31, 2025, they would write “My commission expires: 12/31/2025.”

 

Conclusion

 

Finalizing a General Power of Attorney can be a significant step. It requires a clear understanding of the responsibilities you are delegating and the impact this document can have on your affairs.

But remember, it’s not just about assigning duties. It’s also about planning for the future, protecting your interests, and ensuring peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

This document is a testament to your foresight and commitment to maintaining order and control over your affairs, regardless of what life may bring.

Once completed, the Florida General Power of Attorney offers a structured and legally recognized way to ensure your financial matters are handled, affording protection for all parties involved. So, here’s to taking control, planning for the future, and ensuring our affairs are always in good hands.