Holding The Power: What To Know About The Four Main Types Of Powers Of Attorney

Most people hear the term "power of attorney" (POA) frequently, but don't give much thought to exactly what it means or know that there are many different types of powers of attorney available. The legal documents and what they bestow upon the named person (the agent) are indeed very powerful, so read on to learn more about the four most often used powers of attorney and when they are used.

1. General

This is the POA that most people think of when they think of powers of attorney. This POA is considered a basic, all-purpose means to bestow power upon an individual. General powers of attorney are often temporary in nature and are formed for a specific task or time period, such as a business person who directs that a POA be bestowed upon a person who can act on their behalf to make certain business decisions, such as hiring and firing of employees in the grantor's absence.

2. Special

As the name might suggest, this POA names very specific duties for the agent to perform, and it normally expires when that named task or tasks are complete. For example, a company president might assign the agent to perform certain real estate transactions of their behalf while they are out of the country.

3. Health Care

This type of POA is often confused with a living will, but living wills usually only cover issues concerning life support. The health care POA can cover all medical issues, including those covered by a living will. This type of POA only becomes active when the grantor becomes incapacitated or when a medical doctor has declared the grantor incapable of making decisions about their health care.

4. Durable

This final power of attorney is also the most powerful, and combines the powers of several other types of POA's. Sometimes the durable POA is also referred to as a medical POA and combines the general POA and the health care POA. Since a general POA is null and void once the grantor becomes incapacitated, the durable power of attorney "endures" after the grantor's incapacity and can only be voided once the grantor dies. You will often find this type of POA in used for estate planning purposes, since it can address financial issues that occur during the grantor's incapacity, even though they are still living.

Be sure to speak with an attorney when contemplating a power of attorney to find out the best type for your purposes. Contact a firm like Reagan, Melton, & Delaney LLP for more info.