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Florida Lawsuits: POA Documents and Arbitration

Uncategorized Oct 2, 2020
post about Florida Lawsuits: POA Documents and Arbitration

What does a power of attorney (POA) document have to do with arbitration? When is arbitration correctly compelled by a trial court? How do you interpret the scope of a POA document? How can a health care surrogate become involved in litigation regarding arbitration?

POA and Health Care Documents in Florida

Florida Guardianship lawyers know that, even if a person is deemed incapacitated by a probate court judge in Florida, the court may choose not to appoint a guardian if there’s a lesser restrictive alternative that adequately addresses the incapacitated person’s needs. Therefore, POA and health care documents can prove to be very valuable.

If you meet with aFlorida estate planning attorney to execute a POA, trust and/or health care documents, you will be able to choose who will take care of you if you are to become unable to care for yourself. If a proper estate plan is in place, and you get Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may not have to worry about strangers, or greedy relatives that you dislike, taking over you and your finances.

The Scope of a POA

Sometimes, it can become confusing to a trustee or POA as to what the estate documents allow them to do exactly. For example, certain POA documents specify or limit the authority that it delegates. How do courts determine what authority a POA grants?

A recent Fourth DCA opinion, Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell discusses whether or not a particular POA document gives a health care surrogate the ability to consent to an arbitration provision in a nursing home admission form.

The opinion explains that ” to determine whether a POA contains a sufficiently broad and unambiguous grant of general authority….requires examination of the language of any catch-all provisions contained in a POA, as well as of the relationship of that language to… types of interests over which an attorney-in-fact is specifically granted authority…” Powers of attorney ” will be held to grant only those powers that are specified.”

Here, the document in question was titled “Durable Power of Attorney Containing Health Care Surrogate”. Although the document was a durable power of attorney, it gave limited authority to the health care surrogate.

The court concluded that the document did not extend to the arbitration clause in the admission nursing home admission documents for multiple reasons. For example, the agreement referred to a ” health care surrogate” over twenty times, and it granted authority under Chapter 765, Florida Statutes entitled ” Health Care Advance Directives”. Chapter 765 does not give a health care surrogate the authority to choose the forum in which disputes, even if they arise from health care decisions, arise.

If someone is disputing your authority as POA or if you believe that a POA is abusing his or her powers, you should consult with a Florida litigation lawyer. To interview John Pankauski Esq., managing partner at Pankauski Lazarus, call (561)514-0900 ext. 101.