Is a power of attorney effective as soon as you sign it?
In Florida, a power of attorney is effective and can be used the moment you sign it, as long as your agent has an original copy. Florida no longer allows spring power of attorneys.
Attorney Tom Olsen: My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law, every Saturday 11:00 AM right here on News 96.5. Let's go to Paul in Orange County. Paul, you're on the air. Go ahead.
Paul: Okay, Tom. With a durable power of attorney for finance, I assumed that the agent could just walk into the bank with that document, and have access to my funds.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Sounds easy.
Paul: I go to the bank and they say, "Not quite." I would have to give them that durable power of attorney and they would forward it to their legal department and then make a decision if, in fact, my agent would have access to my funds.
Attorney Tom Olsen: So banks and financial institutions do not like power of attorneys. Can you just walk in there with one in easy breezy? Yes, whatever you want. You're right, Paul. So, if somebody had your power of attorney, they would take it to the bank and more likely, the bank would forward it to their legal department and take a few days or week to come back and hopefully, get the good news that "Yes, that person would be allowed to use it." Now Paul, what you maybe talking about and what we counsel people sometimes is, while you're alive, you don't have to, but while you're alive, good practice could be to take you power of attorney down to your bank and say, "Look, here's my power of attorney where I'm appointing my spouse and my kids, and just want you to know and be aware of it, because some day they may walk in here and need to use it and I want them to be able to use it."
Paul: Okay, with a durable power of attorney, though, once they have that, my agent send technically, even though I'm still of sound mind could transact any business with that account?
Attorney Tom Olsen: That's right. A power of attorney these days is effective the moment you sign it. The moment you sign it, it can be used as long as your agent has the original of it which usually you, my client, will have the only original. So they can't use it if they don't have it. Paul, they used to have something called a springing power of attorney where would only be effective once you became incompetent, but Florida says "No more springing power of attorneys. Can't be used anymore."