In an attempt to achieve greater consistency among the states by conforming Florida’s power of attorney law to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, the Florida legislature voted on May 4, 2011 to pass Senate Bill 670 which significantly revises Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes. A power of attorney is an estate planning device that grants authority to an agent to act in the place of an individual.
There are several important changes in the new law, some of which include:
• No Springing Powers – A springing (or “deployment contingent”) power of attorney is one which does not become effective until the incapacity of the individual. In an effort to curb abuse and limit the liability of those who act on the authority of the powerholder, springing powers are no longer possible and powers of attorney must be effective as of the time they are executed.
• Designation of Multiple Agents – Under the new statute, an individual may designate a single agent or two or more persons to act as co-agents and, unless the power of attorney provides otherwise, each co-agent may exercise their authority independently. The old Florida statute required a majority of co-agents to exercise the power
• New Signing Requirements – Powers of attorney must now be executed in the same manner as wills in Florida. They must signed by the individual and by two subscribing witnesses and be acknowledged before a notary public. Also, the individual must sign or initial next to specific clauses in the document before the agent may exercise certain powers. This additional requirement applies to the authority to create a living trust or to amend, revoke or terminate a trust created by the individual, the power to make gifts, the power to create or change rights of survivorship, the power to create or change a beneficiary designation, the power to waive the individual’s right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, and the power to disclaim property and powers of appointment.
• Acceptance and Rejection – The new law requires that a third person accept or reject a power of attorney within a reasonable time. For financial institutions, four business days is presumed to be a reasonable time. For other third persons, reasonableness will depend on the circumstances and the terms of the power of attorney. If a third person rejects a power of attorney they must state the reasons for the rejection in writing.
Powers executed before the new law takes effect will still be valid, as will those executed out of state. If you have questions about the new law or would like to execute a power of attorney, contact an Attorney in Jacksonville who can help you today.