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Understanding the 4 Types of Power of Attorney

Having a Power of Attorney is one of the first steps of making decisions with your loved ones easier. A Power of Attorney is a legal form or forms that allows you to designate an attorney-in-fact who will act on your behalf under certain circumstances.

When you are considering a POA, it is important to understand the four types of legal forms available to achieve your goals.

General Power of Attorney

The attorney-in-fact or agent is given the power to act on behalf of the principal. This can include opening financial accounts, managing the personal finances, operating business interests, making gifts, or employing professional help for the principal. A general POA is terminated when the principal becomes incapacitated, dies, or revokes the POA forms. They can be a valuable tool when you are not easily accessible to make decisions, such as military deployment.

Special, Limited or Specific Power of Attorney

The designated agent is only given power to make decisions on your behalf limited to a specific area. For example, you delegate an agent to act on your behalf for specific business or financial decisions such as buying or selling assets.

Durable Power of Attorney

Like the General Power of Attorney, the agent is given power to act on behalf of the principal. However, it includes a durable clause which maintains the POA in the event the principal becomes incapacitated.

According to attorney Mike Abrate, “When you draft a durable power of attorney, a good practice is to stipulate that it cannot go into effect until a doctor(s), who you have specified, certifies you as mentally incompetent.” This provides you with an additional layer of protection and control over who must be involved in the process of activating the POA.

Health Care Power of Attorney

While the General and Specific POAs focus on the financial areas of your affairs, a health care or medical POA focuses on your health decisions. Should you become unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to make medical decisions, this POA grants the agent to make the decisions for you or on your behalf.

In some states, you can include your wishes regarding life support. Additionally, some states will allow you to combine parts of a living will and a health care POA into an advanced health care directive.

To learn more contact our law office today!

(916) 550-2688

Should You Have Separate Forms for Financial and Health

Senior Couple talking to an attorney deciding to separate forms for financial and health

You can create a single POA that encompasses both financial and health care information, however our attorneys advise against this. “Separating financial and health care documents can make things easier for your family, agents and others who may need to review the POA.”

According to Attorney Dan Olsen who continued, “Health Care Power of Attorney forms can include more personal details and beliefs not required for financial decisions. Likewise, health care professionals do not need to comb through your financial information while providing you care.”

While our estate planning attorneys advise separate POA for financial and healthcare information, naming the same representative as your trusted agent is a good practice.

Should you believe it is in your best interest to split the responsibility between two agents Olsen notes, “Take into consideration the two may have to work directly with each other. Be sure they will be on the same page regarding your best interest or in line with your wishes.

Experienced Legal Professionals

Having a well drafted Power of Attorney allows you to choose a representative to act on your behalf for financial and health decisions if needed is a great benefit. Contact Our Law Firm Today to Learn More About How a Power of Attorney Can Benefit You

(916) 550-2688


“After being notified I would be deployed for a year, I was referred to the Abrate & Olsen Law Group to draft a financial POA. They listened to my situation and were able to clearly explain the specific power and types of decisions which could be made on my behalf. The whole process was much easier and quicker than I expected.”
~ Tim L. – Sacramento, CA

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