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The 5 Different Types of Power of Attorney and What You Need to Know About Each

The Five Different Types of Powers of Attorney and What You Need to Know About Each

A full 47 percent of men and 58 percent of women will need some form of long-term care in their lifetime and many more will need simple help from loved ones to accomplish daily tasks. When you arrive at this stage of life—and hopefully it won’t be any time soon— you will be glad you took the time to make the power of attorney designations which ensure family members can look after your financial and medical needs should you lose the ability to do so, yourself.

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to designate a loved one (or trusted professional) to act on their behalf should they become incapacitated. Powers of attorney are also sometimes used to accomplish such tasks as closing the purchase of a home when the buyer cannot be physically present. The authority granted by a power of attorney can be vast and so it is important to consult an experienced estate planning attorney when executing these documents.

The Five Types of Power of Attorney

1. General Power of Attorney

Sometimes referred to as an ordinary power of attorney, this is the document you want if, for example, you are moving out of the country for a period and need someone to look after your affairs. When you sign a general power of attorney, you grant the designated person the authority to perform just about any sort of transaction in your name. A general power of attorney ceases to be valid when terminated or when a person becomes incapacitated or passes away.

2. Limited Power of Attorney

There are many situations in which you need a person to act on your behalf but do not wish to grant them general authority. Here, a limited power of attorney is useful. This document grants specific powers limited to a certain area such as selling a home. When granting a limited power of attorney, it is important to seek legal guidance as any ambiguities in wording may prevent the designated person from performing their task. Like the above, a limited power of attorney terminates the moment it is revoked or when a person dies or becomes incapacitated.

3. Generable Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney, unlike the first two options described, does not terminate when a person becomes incapacitated but remains valid unless revoked. All adults need a general durable power of attorney, but it is especially important for elderly individuals who may struggle with the burden of financial management.

4. Medical Power of Attorney

Sometimes referred to as a healthcare directive, a medical power of attorney likewise remains valid in the case of incapacitation and serves to ensure a trusted loved one has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf and ensures you receive care that aligns with your values.

5. Springing Durable Power of Attorney

Some states, including Missouri and Arkansas, allow for “springing” powers of attorney, which leap into effect should a specific event such as incapacitation occur. This option differs from general durable power of attorney in that it only grants authority when activated. It is essential to consult an experienced estate planning attorney when drafting a springing power of attorney as the language describing what constitutes a triggering event must be unambiguous.

At the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm, we are available to attend to all of your estate planning needs, whether it be help with drafting a power of attorney or guidance building a complete estate plan.

To get started or to simply learn more about the subject, do not hesitate to call us at 417-623-2062 or reach out via the contact form on our website.


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