Severna Park, MD asked in Estate Planning for Florida

Q: In Florida, if one prints POA and will forms from the Internet, has them notarized, are they legal documents?

If they are legal, do they have to be filed someplace?

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
Phillip William Gunthert
Phillip William Gunthert
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I would encourage you not to do it that way. Power of Attorney went through substantial changes in recent years and many, if not most of the online forms are very generic, meaning they are made in accordance with the old laws, this means that many institutions will not accept them or they are simply not legal and enforceable for all the purposes and needs that you may have related to your precise circumstances. Generally speaking, the forms created online could and likely would be valid to some degree, but don't be surprised when you try to use them that some institution or other entity says they are not valid or they will not accept them. A Power of Attorney is not registered anywhere but you should notify and or give a copy of the document to the institutions where you are willing to have it used by your designated person. I strongly encourage you to speak with a Florida Estate Planning Attorney so that you can be sure that they are properly drafted, legal and can be used for your desired purposes. If all the document requires is a signature and does not specific powers with additional required initials next to each paragraph then you can be sure that you are headed down the wrong path and likely are using a garbage generic form power of attorney.

Matthew Adam Gruber agrees with this answer

Matthew Adam Gruber
Matthew Adam Gruber
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Pursuant to Florida law in place on 03/07/19, to answer your question as it was literally written, the answer is NO - they are not legal documents. I strongly urge you not to print Power of Attorney and Will forms from the internet for signing and notarizing. Per the Florida Statutes, both sets of documents require specific types of witnesses and you didn't mention that the documents were witnessed and signed by the right people. Also, you may be choosing witnesses that may not make the...well, best witnesses, if later on your documents are challenged in court. Let's say that you did find the right types of witnesses required by the Florida Statutes and you did sign the forms in front of both the witnesses and the notary (if notarization is even necessary, depending on which document we're analyzing and what are your goals) - the document itself may be a poorly drafted one or worse - no longer legal at all! Keep this in mind - when you use Google searches for anything, the most frequented and relevant sites appear on the first few pages. If a particular form on a website is used over and over again for years, it will likely build up the search engine optimization to appear at the top of the listings for years to come. However, if the law changes and makes those forms no longer valid (for example, the termination of "springing" powers of attorney on 10/01/16), there are no legal police that remove those outdated websites with outdated legal forms from the top of Google's search results. It could take months to even years for the Google search engines to realize that they are promoting a bad website link and handing you a bad form.

To answer the second part of your question, powers of attorney are only filed in limited circumstances, such as when used to sign as an agent for the principal in a real estate transaction. Wills only need to be deposited with the clerk by the person in possession within 10 days after the Testator's death.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.