When it comes to power of attorney in Florida, we routinely get questions from people that reflect a basic misunderstanding of not only the importance of these key documents, but also how and why they work.
In particular, a lot of people get confused by the term “attorney.” This is entirely understandable. Unless you have a background in the law or have encountered these documents before, coming across the term “power of attorney” naturally leads you to assume that it has something to do with lawyers. However, this isn’t exactly the case. To help you better understand powers of attorney and why they have very little to do with lawyers, here are some common questions about them.
How can I be a power of attorney if I’m not a lawyer or don’t know anything about the law?
If someone approaches you and says they want to give you power of attorney, shouldn’t you tell them that you’re not a lawyer? After all, you don’t want to do anything wrong by claiming to be an attorney under a power of attorney, right?
These types of questions are entirely natural, even through they reflect a common misunderstanding. To begin with, powers of attorney are documents. These documents convey certain legal abilities, and must be created in accordance with specific Florida loss.
However, the abilities that the power of attorney documents convey have very little to do with lawyers. Even though we call them “power of attorney,” we use the word “attorney” in this sense simply to mean “representative.”
In other words, when people create a power of attorney, what they are creating is a document that gives someone else the power to represent them. It in no way conveys the ability to practice law or be an attorney.
If powers of attorney have nothing to do with lawyers, why do they say “attorney-in-fact?”
A person who creates a power of attorney document to appoint a representative is known as a principal. As a principal you can select whomever you want to represent your legal interests. The person, or organization, you select will become known as either your agent or your “attorney-in-fact.”
Again, however, the term “attorney-in-fact” has nothing to do with being a lawyer. Any capable adult who is willing to serve as a representative under a power of attorney can become an attorney-in-fact. Upon accepting the position, the attorney-in-fact is does gain the right to practice law, call him or herself a lawyer, or the like.
Nevertheless, because power of attorney documents are legal documents, you need to talk to a lawyer if you have any questions about creating or using them.