Contesting a Florida power of attorney may seem like a daunting prospect, but with basic knowledge of the POA contesting process and a good Florida attorney on your side, you don’t have to worry.
What is a Power of Attorney?
Before we begin looking at how you can contest a power of attorney, it’s important to know just what a power of attorney is and what it does.
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a specified individual to perform legal actions on behalf of another individual. The person signing over the power of attorney is referred to as the principal.
The principal of the power of attorney is free to revoke that power of attorney at any time as long as they are able to communicate and of sound mind.
Why Contest a Power of Attorney?
There are a number of reasons why you might contest a Florida power of attorney document, but the most common reason is a lack of competency on behalf of the principal. A third party individual, for example, may recognize that the principal is no longer competent and cannot revoke their power of attorney of their own accord if the situation warrants it.
A power of attorney may also be challenged if the necessary formalities were not followed when the POA was established or if the agent designated as the designated individual has been abusing their authority as a power of attorney.
How to Contest a Florida Power of Attorney
If you are looking to contest a Florida power of attorney the first thing you should do is obtain an attorney. If you live in the St. Petersburg, Florida area you can contact Weidner Law directly at 727-954-8752.
Once you have retained an attorney to assist you in contesting the power of attorney, your attorney will want to go over the power of attorney document in question.
Examining the Power of Attorney for Technical Errors
Your attorney will look over the power of attorney and check it against current state law. Any errors may give you grounds to challenge the power of attorney in your state based on technical errors. These are much easier grounds for contesting a power of attorney than having to prove incompetency.
Power of attorney documents specifics vary from state to state but must always be signed by the principal and that signature must be authenticated by another party (sometimes two and sometimes a notary public must also be present.)
Identifying Abuses by the Designated Agent
If the power of attorney document is free of technical errors your attorney will want to look into any abuses by the designated agent.
By law, the designated agent of a power of attorney must act in the best interest of the principal at all times and they may not (with exception of a reasonable fee that has been authorized by the principal) profit from their role as a designated agent.
Filing a Petition to Contest the Power of Attorney
The next step in the process of contesting the power of attorney is to file a petition with the state district court who has jurisdiction over the principal’s residence. In this petition, your attorney will seek revocation of the power of attorney and state your reasons for contesting it. You may also seek appointment as the legal guardian of the principal which will ensure that the agent established as power of attorney has to gain your permission before carrying out any actions on behalf of the principal.
Submitting the Discovery
Once your attorney has filed the petition to contest the power of attorney for you, a discovery request must be submitted to the attorney of the acting agent of the power of attorney. You will also want to submit a discovery request to anyone else concerned with the case at hand.
A discovery is a request for the provision of documentary evidence that would support your contesting of the power of attorney. Most often this evidence is going to be in the form of financial or medical records.
When you submit a discovery request to an individual but they do not comply, your attorney will seek a court order to compel them to produce the evidence requested.
The next step in the process of contesting a Florida power of attorney is to issue subpoenas to any witness who can provide a favorable testimony supporting your case.
The hearing is the next step in the sequence of events. During the hearing, your attorney will present your case contesting the Florida power of attorney document.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the power of attorney document will be revoked if you win or you will be assigned as the guardian of the principal (depending on whether you were seeking this role in your petition). If you lose your case it will be dismissed and the power of attorney document will stand.
Why You Need an Attorney to Contest a Florida Power of Attorney
Although the steps outlined above seem quite simplistic, the fact of the matter is that contesting a power of attorney can be tedious and time-consuming especially if you don’t have strong evidence supporting your case. Hiring an attorney will ensure that all of your T’s are crossed and I’s dotted, that you have properly followed procedure in contesting the document in question, and that you have considered all possibilities for contesting the document.
Simply put, hiring an attorney to help your case will leave someone else in charge of doing the legwork – someone who knows what they’re doing!
If you’re seeking to contest a Florida power of attorney in the St. Pete area, pick up the phone and give Matt Weidner a call at 727-954-8752.