Power Of Attorney



Power of attorney (POA) documents give one or more people the power to act on your behalf as your attorney-in-fact or agent when you aren't able to be there in person or are otherwise mentally incompetent or physically unable to represent yourself.

Choose the right type of power of attorney


Durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney takes effect immediately after you and your attorney-in-fact sign it. A durable POA provides you with assistance managing your estate, money, and legal and financial affairs—all your own affairs—if you become incapacitated. You can specify in the durable POA document that you would like your agent to have sweeping authority immediately after the durable POA is signed, or you can limit the powers granted by a durable power of attorney until a physician you choose declares you incompetent. That ensures the person making the decision that will trigger the durable power of attorney is someone whose opinion you trust.

Non-durable power of attorney. A non-durable power of attorney only offers legal authority for a limited and specific time period. For example, it can give your real estate professional or someone else the ability to sign closing documents or other approved tasks when you sell property. They will only have this ability for a very limited period of time.

Springing power of attorney. This power of attorney “springs" into action if you are declared physically or mentally incompetent, allowing your attorney or attorneys-in-fact to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on your behalf. A drawback of a springing POA can be the delay between the onset of your condition and the time it can take to get a professional to declare in writing that you are mentally incapacitated or incompetent.

General power of attorney. A general POA allows your agent to make decisions about legal, health, and financial transactions, including opening and closing bank accounts, buying or selling stocks, filing tax returns, buying or renewing insurance policies, and making healthcare decisions. A general power of attorney offers your agent broad power. It is the POA offering an agent broad power—maybe the broadest power of attorney available.

Limited power of attorney. This is similar to a non-durable power of attorney. It gives your agent some specific responsibilities, but generally, there isn't a time limit. For instance, a limited power of attorney gives an agent in another part of the country the right to market and complete the sale of your home without your presence. If you aren't going to be regularly reachable, this can facilitate rapid decision-making and action.

Medical power of attorney. A medical POA is similar to a springing power of attorney. It allows your attorney or attorneys-in-fact to make healthcare decisions for you if you aren't able to. This common legal document is used in emergency situations. The person you select will be required to follow your previously stated medical wishes, including in your healthcare power of attorney or living will.

Financial power of attorney. A financial POA gives someone else the right to manage your financial matters, including investment portfolios, property, or whatever financial assets you need help with when you aren't available to do it yourself.

Military power of attorney. This gives someone like a spouse or family member the right to pay bills, make financial decisions, and take other actions while you are serving your country and can't be contacted, or the technology available to you is weak. This kind of power of attorney can be vital; most service people assign this role to someone. The key is choosing the right person.