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Florida Powers of Attorney and Self Dealing–when the power holder goes too far

Uncategorized Sep 30, 2013

In Florida, all you ever wanted to know, just about, of powers of attorney is contained in Chapter 709 of Florida Statutes.   Florida probate attorneys know that this chapter was “re-created” last year and that this past legislative session saw some slight changes to the POA statute.   Now, there are so-called “super powers” which a client may, or may not, grant to his or her attorney in fact.  Since a power of attorney in Florida is a fiduciary relationship, estate and trust attorneys, and guardianship attorneys, know that a fiduciary is prohibited from “self dealing.”  An agent, a service provider, a FIDUCIARY, may not use the power of attorney for his or her own good.  The person who has been granted authority under a POA, the “attorney-in-fact”, must, first and foremost, act in the POA creator’s best interests.  The POA creator is often referred to as the “principal.”   Beneficiaries of estates and trusts often want to know what acts the attorney in fact took, supposedly relying on the POA, when the principal loses capacity or passes away.  Knowing how to conduct financial discovery, to learn of the actions by the attorney in fact, and knowing how to evaluate a case when you believe that a POA has been mis-used, are important skills for Florida probate litigators.  Advocate hard.  Litigate smart.