Is the Foreign Power of Attorney Valid in Florida?

Powers of Attorney are helpful in situations where a person become incapacitated or is otherwise unavailable. Oftentimes, visitors to the United States have General Powers of Attorney in their home country and when something unforeseen happens, they are unable to act because the Power of Attorney is not valid under the Florida Statutes and thus rejected by a bank, hospital or Doctor’s office.

It is, therefore, important to make sure that Powers of Attorney follow the rules set out in the Florida Statutes to ensure that the Power of Attorney is valid when it is needed most.

First, while there is no absolute requirement that powers of attorney be written in English to be valid, the Agent must be able to communicate the powers granted by the Power of Attorney if the Agent expects a third party to rely on the document. This may require a translation to be performed to the satisfaction of the third party.

Second, while powers of attorney can be executed overseas, the general rule is that for a power of attorney to be valid in the State of Florida, it must be signed by the principal and 2 witnesses and acknowledged by a notary public. Foreign Civil Law Notaries and some other officials are commonly accepted under Florida Statutes in lieu of a Florida Notary Public.

Lastly, even though the Power of Attorney may permit certain actions to be taken (i.e. Banking Transactions, Medical Decisions, Release of Medical Records etc.) it may sometimes be difficult to persuade a third party to comply under the Power of Attorney because references to certain Florida Statutes (for banking transactions) or Federal Laws (for Medical Information Releases) are missing.

Thus, it is important to make sure that the appropriate formalities are followed to ensure a good experience.

This Article is intended for general information and is not intended to provide legal advice.