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Powers in a Power of Attorney

When you're creating a Power of Attorney you need to figure out with your attorney whether you want to make a specific or a general power of attorney. The names are kind of misleading because in the general Power of attorney you still have to be very specific. So what that means is in a specific power of attorney, it's really only for a certain type of act (as opposed to general acts) and it can be limited in duration or in scope. So you may have a specific power of attorney only to deal with one piece of real estate for a certain month because you're going to be out of town during the closing. In contrast, a general power of attorney is going to hopefully cover almost all the things that you could do in your life and give those powers to your agent. However, in order for the general power of attorney to be legal under Florida law, we have to specifically list all of those powers (so that there’s so many specific powers listed that it becomes “general”). You can't just say I give my agent the power to do everything as I could do, as that is not valid. So what are some of these specific things to list under the general power of attorney:

  • banking transactions
  • financial transactions
  • investment transactions
  • real property transactions
  • personal property transactions
  • business transactions
  • operating a business
  • insurance transactions
  • estate, trust and beneficiary designation
  • transactions involving claims and litigation
  • personal and family maintenance
  • government benefits
  • retirement plan
  • taxes
  • foreign transactions

These are just some of the powers that you would want to specifically list and you must say how you'd want them handled. The other powers that you can’t simply list are called the seven super powers. If you want those powers given in your power of attorney, not only do you have to specifically list them but you have to initial directly next to them. Those seven powers are creating an inter vivos trust, modifying that trust, making a gift, changing the rights of survivorship on certain accounts, creating or changing of beneficiary designation, waiving the principal’s right to being a beneficiary of an annuity or certain retirement plans, and being able to disclaim property and powers of appointment.

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