Once again our office has a received a number of questions with regards to the duties of the Agent under the Florida Durable Power of Attorney and the Florida Statutes. Becoming an Agent for a Principal is not a small task, and does require some research so the Agent is clear of what is expected of them.
I have been designated as an Agent in a Durable Power of Attorney over the Principal’s finances; will I be required to manage financial matters?
An Agent must agree to manage the financial services for someone else. So there is no actual requirement that an agent accept the responsibilities. There is a difference in the amount of control an Agent is to exercise over the Principals financial affairs. In Florida, an Agent may be granted complete control over all financial matters for the Principal in the event the Principal cannot manage his/her own financial affairs. In other circumstances, limited power may be used to sell property or maintain a specific financial objective.
There are no special qualifications to be an Agent. It is suggested, that you understand what your responsibilities will be, so speaking with the Principal is probably a good idea.
An Agent is responsible for assisting with Banking Transactions, Government and Social Security Benefits, Managing Investments, Managing Real Estate, Filing Tax Returns, Running Businesses and the everyday affairs of the Principal in some cases.
You should speak with the Principal. It is also possible to hire a professional like an attorney or accountant to assist you with your responsibilities.
A Principal can appoint multiple Agents’ under the Power of Attorney document. If you are appointed, the Principal may specifically designate responsibilities for each agent, or may expect them to work each other. The Agent should be sure to communicate and works together to ensure the Principal matters are handled effectively.
Act Prudently - Handle the Principal’s affairs as you would your own. Do not make risky investments and be sure to consult a professional for assistance.
No Commingling-Keep your personal assets and affairs separate from those of the Principal.
Avoid Conflicts of Interests-This issue comes up a lot when handling a Principal’s business affairs. It is important to consult a professional if a conflict of interest is suspected. You have a duty to act in the best interest of the Principal.
When conducting transactions on behalf of the Principal, the Agent should always sign and identify as the Agent. When signing a document, you will print the Principals name and the word “by”, then sign your name and write “as agent”. Signing documents in this capacity reduces any legal liability the Agent could face if signed in the individual’s capacity.
Find out how the Principal wants you to make financial decisions.
Understand the Principal’s goals for financial and business matters.
Discover whether anyone will be involved in making decisions with you as Agent for the Principal.
Determine if you should be familiar with any business co-workers or family of the Principal with regards to any of the matters to be exercised.
Understand what time constraints will be required of you.
Communicate any concerns to the Principal before accepting the responsibility.
Your role is terminated upon the Principal’s death, revocation of the Power of Attorney document, agent resignation, by contract, or a specific occurrence designated by the Principal.
The Agent will resign by completing the necessary documentation and executing the document in front of a Florida Notary Public.