Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is an excellent estate planning tool that allows you to name others that you’d like to help manage your personal, property and financial interests. It gives your named agents the ability to act on your behalf in most situations (excluding medical) while you are too busy, incapable, or incapacitated. Since this document carries a lot of weight in both current and future decision making, it is important to carefully decide who you want to name as an agent in your power of attorney.

This document really doesn't revolve around death or incapacity ­ it is a tool that allows your designated agent (or multiple agents working together, independently or in a succession), to act on your behalf. People refer to different types of Powers of Attorneys, including financial powers of attorney or medical powers of attorney. Usually when you hear about someone having “Power of Attorney,” they’re talking about the financial type. Some of the words that are also mentioned with it are durable or general. These aren't necessarily different types of documents from each other ­ they can exist together. When a Power of Attorney is “durable” that means that the statutory default has been changed. The statute says that powers of attorney become ineffective upon your lack of capacity or upon your death. If you make it durable then that means that it endures your lack of capacity (so your agent will then be able to use it while you’re in a coma). Then there is a difference between a general and a specific Power of Attorney. A general Power of Attorney lists lots of different types of powers that your agent can do on your behalf, whereas a specific power of attorney is limited to one or a few types of actions that are limited in scope, duration, or otherwise.

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