Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants a person the authority to act on behalf of another person, known as the principal, in legal, financial, or medical matters. The person granted the power of attorney is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact. 

Typically, the principal retains the power to change or revoke the power of attorney at any time as long as they are competent to do so. All states allow powers of attorney, but the rules and requirements vary by jurisdiction. 

Types of power of attorney

  • General power of attorney: This type of POA grants the agent the authority to make legal, financial, and business decisions on the principal’s behalf, and remains in effect until the principal revokes it or becomes incapacitated. 
  • Limited power of attorney: This type of POA grants the agent the power to perform specific tasks or make specific decisions on behalf of the principal, often for a limited period of time or a specific purpose. For example, if the principal is buying a certain asset but does not wish to appear in person to close the transaction, they can grant an agent the power to do so in their stead. 
  • Durable power of attorney: A durable POA remains in effect even if the principal later becomes incapacitated. It’s often used for long-term planning to ensure that someone is authorized to manage the principal’s affairs if they become unable to do so themselves. 
  • Medical power of attorney: This type of POA, also known as a healthcare proxy, grants the agent authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal if they become unable to do so. This might include decisions about medical treatments, healthcare providers, and end-of-life care. 
  • Springing power of attorney: This type of POA only becomes effective under conditions specified in the document, like the incapacity of the principal. It “springs” into effect when the condition is met. 

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