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Can an Agent Engage in “Self-Dealing” Under a Florida Power of Attorney?


A Florida power of attorney grants an agent the legal authority to take certain actions on behalf of a principal. This creates a fiduciary relationship. So even where a power of attorney grants broad authority, the agent must still adhere to certain basic legal and ethical standards. For example, the agent cannot use their position to enrich themselves through self-dealing–i.e., transferring the principal’s assets to themselves.

Criminal Charges Over Alleged Abuse of Dementia Patient

An agent acting under a Florida power of attorney is a fiduciary who must act in the sole interest of the principal (i.e. the person who made the power of attorney). Agents who abuse the position and their authority for their personal benefit may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Taking Civil Action Over a Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Even in cases where an agent does not face criminal charges, a principal or other interested party can take civil legal action against the agent for abuse of a power of attorney. Under Florida law, if the principal or their representative presents evidence that their agent “had a personal interest in the exercise of the power,” the burden of proof shifts to the agent. In other words, the agent must demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that (a) they acted solely in the interest of the principal or (b) acted in good faith, and that any conflict of interest was “expressly authorized” by the power of attorney itself. However, this latter provision does not apply if the agent or someone affiliated with the agent abused their relationship with the principal to obtain such authorization.

If you are involved in a legal dispute over an agent’s actions under a Florida power of attorney, our Pompano Beach breach of fiduciary duties lawyer can help. Contact the offices of Mark R. Manceri, P.A., today to schedule a consultation with our staff.



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