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What Is a Power of Attorney, and When Should You Have One?

When you face a medical emergency that prevents you from communicating with others, how will your family handle your day-to-day responsibilities and make medical decisions on your behalf? Advanced directives are legal documents that indicate your desires for medical, financial, and legal care in an emergency. These documents allow others to act on your behalf in certain legal situations. Several types of advanced directives give others the authority to make decisions for you. One of the most common advanced directives is a power of attorney. Learn more about powers of attorney and their purpose below. 

What is a Power of Attorney? 

 According to Florida law, a power of attorney (POA) is any writing that gives someone authority to act on your behalf. Florida Statute 709 regulates the requirements regarding the authority of a POA and situations where they go into effect. The person given authority is called the agent, while you (the POA creator) are the principal.  

What is the Purpose of a Power of Attorney? 

There are several legal, financial, and medical reasons you may want to create a power of attorney. A legal POA, for instance, can authorize someone to sign a contract on your behalf. A medical POA gives someone else authority to make medical decisions for you. Financial POAs allow others to manage your finances, and domestic POAs enable another person to manage decisions regarding your home and lifestyle. 

Types of POAs

There are several types of POAs that serve specific purposes. Here are the primary kinds of POAs available in Florida:


Durable is the most common type of power of attorney. Most POAs are only active when you (the principal) are conscious. However, durable POAs go into effect if you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows someone to handle your various affairs when you cannot, from making healthcare decisions to managing daily finances. Durable POAs must be detailed and specific about the tasks and decisions the agent can handle on your behalf.


General POAs give an agent authority over a broad range of medical, financial, and domestic decisions. They have no set timeframe or specific requirements to follow. Due to their general nature, it’s vital that the POA specifies exactly when it will go into effect and what it will cover.


Limited POAs are effective for a selected timeframe and for a particular purpose. This timeframe is usually needed to complete a specific task, such as signing a contract or opening a financial account. The POA is no longer valid once the date is passed or the task is completed. 

How to Create a Power of Attorney 

A POA should be a written, notarized document that you and two witnesses sign. The POA must name the principal, the agent, and the tasks and responsibilities the agent will be responsible for under the POA. According to Florida law, durable POAs must include this statement or one with similar wording: “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in Chapter 709, Florida Statutes.” 

Estate Planning and Advanced Directives with Peppler Law, P.A.

Peppler Law, P.A. can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that includes various tools to help your family handle your estate and enact your wishes, including advanced directives like powers of attorney. Contact our office for a consultation to get started creating your estate plan.

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