When it comes to estate planning, there are many different options available to achieve the results you want. Some options will be more or less important to different people and at different times during their lives. A power of attorney is a tool which can be useful under many different circumstances, so it’s important to understand the basics.
General power of attorney
Fundamentally, every power of attorney provides a similar function – it allows you to grant your personal authority to someone else, who then acts on your behalf. This person, known as your agent, exercises the authority you grant them in accordance with the legal document. If the power is general in nature, you’re giving them the power to act in all circumstances you could. This type of power of attorney could be useful for someone facing a debilitating injury or condition.
Limited power of attorney
As the name implies, a limited power of attorney grants authority to the agent, but only in limited circumstances. For instance, a person who has suffered a debilitating condition may only need assistance with their finances, so the grant of authority goes no further than paying bills, filing taxes, etc. Or a perfectly healthy person may want to grant their agent authority to oversee a single piece of property they own – perhaps they live far away from it or maintaining it themselves is otherwise difficult.
Durable power of attorney
When a power of attorney is durable, it means it does not expire. Under Pennsylvania law, all powers of attorney are durable unless stated otherwise. So, if you want a power of attorney to end at a specific time or under specific circumstances, you’ll need to include that when you execute it.
Springing power of attorney
Sometimes, you may not want a power of attorney to begin until a certain date or until a specific circumstance has occurred. This is a springing power of attorney. It does not take effect as soon as it’s executed, but at some point in the future which you’ve identified.