While executing a power of attorney is a very useful tool when it comes to any estate plan, it is very important to understand just what kind of power is being given to the person you designate as your agent when signing the document. Many people believe they know what having a power of attorney means, but there are many misunderstandings about what it does, and does not, allow. Because the power that a power of attorney gives to an agent is very specific, you should get the advice of a Miami estate attorney before making one and before exercising one.

A power of attorney is a document that gives someone else, called an agent, power to conduct business on your behalf. It is possible to limit this document to only certain situations, such as if you want to give an adult child permission to deal with Social Security on your behalf, or can cover a full range of financial and real estate transactions.

Included in the types of transactions that an agent can conduct, unless it is otherwise limited in the document is that they can buy and sell property on your behalf.

Practically speaking, an agent would have the ability to buy and sell your property to anyone, including themselves or someone close to them, once you give them the ability to do so with a power of attorney. However, this does not necessarily mean that the agent could do so consequence free. An agent has a statutory duty to only act according to the principal’s desires and in their best interest when acting according to a power of attorney. This means that, officially anyway, an agent would not be allowed to sell property to themselves if it was against the principal’s best interest and their desire. A power of attorney does not allow the agent to substitute their will for the principal’s, only to allow them to act on the principal’s behalf.

Because of the amount of power an agent has to conduct on a principal’s behalf, special care must be taken to make sure that the agent is as trustworthy as possible. While a power of attorney is revocable and you can take the power away from an agent that you designate, you or your heirs may not discover that an agent has abused their power until it is too late to actually do anything about it. It is also essential to monitor what your agent is doing and to ask them for periodic accountings of the transactions that they did on your behalf.

If you need a power of attorney drafted, get the assistance of a Miami estate attorney to make sure that you protect yourself and that you don’t end up giving an agent more or less power than you actually intended. Also, keep checking your assets, to make sure that you still own them.

If you would like to speak with a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.