Estate planning can seem like a complex process, with many different ways to accomplish an endless variety of goals. Establishing one or more powers of attorney can be a useful means of achieving some of those goals, but it’s important to understand that there are differences between those powers.
What does a power of attorney do?
A power of attorney is a legal document, wherein one person gives another the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf. Typically, those decisions relate to the person’s health or finances. A limited power of attorney only allows the one exercising authority (the agent) to act in very specific circumstances. The agent has no power beyond the clearly defined parameters granted.
A general power of attorney typically refers to financial authority, letting the agent take actions such as paying bills, filing taxes, depositing money, etc. Healthcare powers of attorney, as the name suggests, gives the agent authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. This may include whether to received certain treatments or life-saving procedures. All powers of attorney may be designated as ‘durable’ powers of attorney – meaning they continue to be effective if you become incapacitated.
How are superpowers different?
Superpowers are a specific list of powers under Florida statute which may be part of a power of attorney. They include certain actions an agent can take with respect to trusts, changing beneficiary designations, creating rights of survivorship and many others. The difference is in the form of how these powers are delegated. Normal grants of power can be completed in a standard power of attorney form. Superpowers, however, must be conveyed explicitly and individually. Each grant of a superpower has to be signed by the grantor, witnessed and notarized for it to be effective. Without the additional required steps, any grant of a superpower will likely be disallowed and your estate planning frustrated.