Although most states now have statutes that address the scope of powers of an agent under a durable or general power of attorney, it is safe to say, as a general proposition, that an agent cannot make a gift of his or her principal's property to himself or to a third party unless such a power is given to the designated attorney-in-fact in the power-of-attorney instrument. Dingle v. Prikhdina, 59 So. 3d 326 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). Thus, in the absence of specific provision in a power-of-attorney document that authorizes the agent to make gifts of the principal's assets or property, if the attorney-in-fact makes a gift of the principal's money or property to himself, herself, or a third party, a court will presume that the gift was improper or constituted an act of prohibited self-dealing, and the agent carries the heavy burden of proving, with clear evidence, that the principal intended to allow him or her to make the gift in question. In re Estate of Curtis, 83 A.D.3d 1182, 923 N.Y.S.2d 734 (2011).
Even if a power-of-attorney instrument authorizes gifts by the attorney-in-fact to third parties, the agent can make only those gifts of the principal's money or property that are within the scope of the gift-giving powers conferred upon the agent by the governing document and that are in the best interests of the principal.Read More