Divorce and the Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you designate someone to make legal and financial decisions for you if you are not available to make them yourself. The person you designate can sell or buy property on your behalf, access bank accounts or take out loans in your name. The Power of Attorney is a very useful document in planning for any mental incapacity you might experience as the result of an accidental injury or medical condition. It allows the person designated, called an “agent” or “attorney in fact,” to act on your behalf without the procedure and expense of being appointed your legal guardian.

If you have consulted with an Estate Planning attorney and had your Last Will and Testament prepared, you most likely signed a Power of Attorney also. And if you were married at that time, you most likely appointed your spouse as the agent under your Power of Attorney. Pursuant to Florida law, your spouse’s authority to act as your agent terminates when either of you files for divorce. If you selected an alternate agent, that person will serve if necessary. However, if you did not select an alternate, no one will be able to act as your agent if you become incapacitated unless they are appointment by a court as your legal guardian.

When you or your spouse files for dissolution of your marriage, you should review your Power of Attorney and other Estate Planning documents with your family law attorney to determine whether you should update your documents.