What are the different types of powers of attorney?

Good estate planning can have a lot of moving parts and there are some aspects which will have more use to you than others. Your needs will also change throughout your life, as you age and different events require different approaches to your estate plan. Powers of attorney can be invaluable under the right circumstances, so it’s important to understand what your options are.

General power of attorney

All powers of attorneys are legal documents which you use to allow someone else to act on your behalf. It can be a single person or more, depending on the situation. The person is known as your agent and is legally authorized to make decisions for you. A general power of attorney is one where your agent is authorized to act on your behalf in all things. This can be useful in times when you would have difficulty acting on your own – such as having one or more physical impairments.

Limited power of attorney

Sometimes there are only specific things which require appointment of an agent. This is where a limited power of attorney comes in. For instance, you may execute a limited power of attorney to handle only your financial matters. Or you can be even more specific and give them authority over a single account or piece of real estate. With a limited power of attorney, the agent’s authority is specifically tailored to your needs.

Durable power of attorney

Both a limited and general power of attorney become inoperative should you become incapacitated and completely unable to make decisions for yourself. A durable power of attorney extends the agent’s authority so that they can act if you become incapacitated. A power of attorney need only include language to this effect to transform it into a durable power of attorney.

Medical power of attorney

A special type of limited power of attorney, the medical power of attorney authorizes your agent to act on your behalf only for medical decisions. This can include treatments or procedures you would or would not like to receive and decisions regarding end-of-life care.