What is a Durable Power of Attorney, and What is Its Purpose

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document which conforms to and is governed by Chapter 709 of our Florida Statutes, known as the “Florida Power of Attorney Act”.

Its purpose is to facilitate and authorize another to act as one’s legal and financial agent. The effect is often described as authorizing another to “stand in your shoes” if needed.
The use of a Durable Power of Attorney, involves three different parties. The “principal” is the one who signs the document, giving authority to another. The “agent” is the one which receives the authority. In addition a “third party” relies on the document and acts pursuant to it. A third party is any bank, financial institution, insurance company, accountant or any other entity that the agent presents the document to. All these parties are subject to the provisions of the Florida Power of Attorney Act.

You have executed a DPOA naming your spouse as your agent. Unfortunately, you are tied up in the hospital and the taxes are due. The accountant has called you in to sign your tax returns, so they will be timely filed. By the legal authority of the document, your spouse can sign for him/her-self, and for you “as agent for you”.
We all hope we remain capable to handle our own legal, financial and business affairs, but things happen causing us to need an agent to carry out our obligations of modern life. Hospitalizations and injuries can prevent us from being able to do many things. This includes the need to pay bills, obtain money from our accounts, change investments, buy or renew insurance, sign a rental agreement, file tax returns, file insurance claims, institute lawsuits, defend lawsuits, etc. etc. A legally designated agent can step in and legally act for you, in these necessities.

Every adult married or not, should have such a document in case the need arises. Those who don’t have them and become incapacitated would have to have a legal guardian appointed by the court, which is an expensive and lengthy process that is easily avoided.

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