General Durable Power of Attorney - Medical Power of Attorney

Information about the power of attorney that can help you to look after your current and future financial affairs.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document endorsing a person or an organization to handle the legal or business affairs of another. It can be durable, non-durable or springing. The person who issues power is called the principal and the person or organization thus appointed is called the 'attorney-in-fact' or 'agent'. A general power of attorney has a broad scope. It provides considerable powers and allows the agent to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. A special or limited power of attorney allows you to give only specific powers to the agents, and thus has a narrower scope. The agent or attorney-in-fact must act in your best interests, keep accurate records, keep your property separate from his or hers and avoid conflicts of interest. This legal document is used in times of a principal’s illness or disability, or in legal transactions where the principal cannot be present to sign legal documents. Power of attorney always does not concern mental incompetence. Those serving in the military or overseas contractors prepare powers of attorney so that their spouses or other family members can represent them legally or financially when they are not available to handle these matters themselves. Since this is an important legal document, it is better to consult a lawyer to prepare one.

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney that contains special durability provisions is called a durable power of attorney. The provision allows for an agent to act on your behalf and stays valid even if you become unable to handle your affairs. It is important to choose someone you trust to act as your agent. If you are facing a major operation or terminal illness, you can draft a durable power of attorney to go into effect as soon as you sign it. You can also specify that it does not go into effect unless the doctor certifies that you have become incapacitated. This is also called a 'springing' durable power of attorney. It allows you to keep control over your affairs unless and until you become incapacitated. Such power of attorney ends at your death, or if you revoke it. There are two basic types of durable powers of attorney - durable power of attorney for finances and durable power of attorney for healthcare. The person or organization you appoint as your agent might not be able or may refuse to serve as attorney-in-fact. You can nominate a successor agent in your power of attorney if such an event should occur.

Medical / Health Care Power of Attorney

A medical or a health care power of attorney authorizes a person to make health care decisions on your behalf, when you become incompetent to make such decisions. Many states also allows you to express your wishes on whether you wish to receive 'life-sustaining procedures' if you become permanently comatose or terminally ill, in the health care power of attorney. While a living will only allows you to express your wishes concerning life-sustaining procedures, a medical power of attorney allows you to authorize someone to make health care decisions for you. Both of these documents are considered 'advanced health care directives'. Some states have a specific advanced health care directive document that combines essentials of a health care power of attorney and a living will. You can still give medical directions to physicians and other health care providers as long as you are not incapacitated, even if you have executed a health care power of attorney. The document becomes effective only when you do not have the capacity to give, withdraw or withhold informed consent regarding your health care.

Limited Power of Attorney

A special or limited power of attorney allows only specific powers to the agent. People use limited power of attorney to authorize their agent to do one or more of the following:

  • Conduct banking transactions
  • Handle transactions involving U.S. securities
  • Make legal claims and conduct litigation
  • Buy / Sell / Manage / Mortgage real estate
  • Sell personal property
  • Borrow money
  • Manage business interests
  • Handle government issues
  • Make estate-planning decisions, including gifts

General Power of Attorney

As described before, a general power of attorney gives extensive powers to the person or organization you appoint as your agent. These powers may include:

  • Buy or sell real estate
  • Manage property
  • Conduct banking transactions
  • Invest, or not invest, money
  • Make legal claims and conduct litigation
  • Attend to tax and retirement matters
  • Make gifts
  • Make estate-planning decisions
  • Collect debts
  • Borrow money

We thank you for visiting our directory, and wish you well in whatever endeavor brought you here. We are constantly adding new information and resources to our site, both general and state specific in nature, so check back often.


Disclaimer: The articles provided herein are for information purposes only and are not destined as a substitute for specific legal advice. The reader is urged to seek professional legal counsel for their specific circumstances, as the law constantly changes and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and is subject to changeable interpretations.