Your Initial Makes It Official

Florida Statute § 709.2202 means the agent you name in a Durable Power of Attorney document lacks authority to take the following actions on your behalf unless you signed or placed your initials next to the authorizing paragraph:

1. Create an inter vivos trust;
2. With respect to a trust created by or on behalf of the principal, amend, modify, revoke, or terminate the trust, but only if the trust instrument explicitly provides for amendment, modification, revocation, or termination by the settlor’s agent;
3. Make a gift*;
4. Create or change rights of survivorship;
5. Create or change a beneficiary designation;
6. Waive the principal’s right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan; or
7. Disclaim property and powers of appointment.

*If the power of attorney only grants general gifting authority, the agent will be limited to gifts not exceeding the annual gift tax exclusion amount.

If you’d like to read the statute for yourself, go to http://www.leg.state.fl.us and select Chapter 709, Part II, Florida Statutes. As elder law attorneys, our ability to help a client with Medicaid or VA Benefits often hinges on the sick person not only having a Durable Power of Attorney, but also on them having initialed many of the items addressed above. If you have concerns about the effectiveness of your Durable Power of Attorney if Medicaid or VA Benefits is needed, contact Prather & Swank, P.A. at (239) 288-4315.