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The Power of Attorney: The Different Types

Updated on November 30, 2011

Power of Attorney - the Different Types

If you are thinking about creating a Power of Attorney (POA) for yourself, or providing such a service for someone else, keep in mind that there are different types. And equally important - It is not necessary to actually be an attorney.

The power of attorney is an instrument that provides authorization for someone to act as an agent of the Principal and terminates some time in the future based on the terms of the instrument.

To begin with, a person who has Power of Attorney, (also known as an agent or Attorney-in-Fact) for another person has a legal duty to always act in the best interest of the person, (known as the Principal), who gives them this power.

Why have a POA for yourself? In the case of a sudden illness, or an accident, or whenever someone is needed to handle your affairs - the POA is created in advance in anticipation of such a need.

Once a POA is created, the agent assumes particular responsibilities. They become fiduciaries and must act with the highest degree of good faith.

Several basic rules must always be followed. This includes:

1 - Keeping the principal's money separately

2 - Keeping detailed records of all transactions -- which can be requested at any time

3 - In no way profiting by any of the transactions

4 - Not transferring or making a gift of the principal's money, personal property, or real estate unless the type of POA in effect explicitly permits it

Below is a list of the different types of Powers of Attorney - and each type gives the agent very specific responsibilities

General Power of Attorney - When an agent has a general power of attorney, the agent can use any of the principal's assets to conduct just about every type of business or financial transaction. In the case of a general power of attorney, the agent has no restraints whatsoever.

Special or Limited Power of Attorney - In this case the agent has the power to perform certain specific acts or just one act. For example, the agent is permitted to act on behalf of the principal and complete a real estate transaction.

Health Care Power of Attorney - has the responsibility of making health care decisions on behalf of the principal should the principal become mentally incompetent, unconscious or incapacitated in some way. In some states, the agent may be required to decide whether or not the principal will receive "life-sustaining-procedures" if terminally ill, or permanently comatose.

Springing Power of Attorney - Any Power of Attorney can be written to go into effect as soon as the principal signs it. However, the springing power of attorney gives the agent power only when some event occurs, that acts as a trigger - at which time it "springs" into effect.

Examples of a trigger includes when the principal reaches a certain age, a particular calendar date, or when a doctor certifies that the principal has become incapacitated.

Unless, a POA specifically states otherwise, an agent's authority will end when the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.

Durable Power of Attorney - This special or health care POA has special durability provisions. Should the principal become mentally incompetent - with a POA already in effect, a durable provision will allow the document to remain in effect. This will allow the agent to continue to act in the best interest of the principal.

Note: The power of attorney can be revoked at any time as long as the principal is competent.

Creating a Power of Attorney

Have you planned ahead and created a power of attorney?

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    • MissFrost profile image


      6 years ago from 50% Island Girl, 25% East Coast Girl, 25% Country Girl

      Thank you very much BKcreative! I will check the links out now!!!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello MissFrost - here are two answers (links)that may be of use to you - responses from lawyers. There seems to be many questions about this issue.

    • MissFrost profile image


      6 years ago from 50% Island Girl, 25% East Coast Girl, 25% Country Girl

      Hello BK creative. Question for you: Can a power of attorney file for divorce on behalf of a service member serving overseas? I have been trying to research the answer to this question and I'm not finding anything.

      BTW-voted up!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for the UK information Donace. And the link! I'll check it out now.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      One other type in the UK is a Lasting Power of Attorney.

      I have written a brief outline here: that may be of help.

      These are different as in they are still viable after the donor loses capacity which is generally not the case for other POA.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for your comment RTalloni. There is nothing better than being reminded here that the school of hard knocks awaits many of us.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for posting this explanation of the different types of POA. Voted up because it's important info that people don't know they need until they need it (I learned that in the school of hard knocks last year), and book marked for future reference.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      And I have still put it off KoffeeKlatch Gals - sigh! Maybe because it is so hot right now. I appreciate your comment because it brings me here and reminds me once again to get this down.

      Thanks for writing!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great information on an important subject. So many of us keep putting it off. With your information one can make an educated choice.

    • CountryCityWoman profile image


      7 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      No, I have not done this yet. Sigh! I cannot even die peacefully it seems but must have every type of will, POA etc. in place. Well, I have the will and will work on this.

      Thanks for the reminder.

      Rated up.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Glad you found it useful dallas93444! Thanks for writing!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great job providing succinct information!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome Dardia! I always hear about them and also thought there was just one general one. This makes so much more sense. I think most people just assume if they give it to someone that person has total power - it shouldn't be that way.

      Thanks for writing!

    • Dardia profile image

      Darlene Yager 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      My sister had POA for my mother but I never knew which one. As a matter of fact I thought there was only one. Thanks for the information.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you Hello, hello. As I plan to do this I did the research and now I know what I want.

      I didn't know either Philipo. Now I can make the right decision.

    • Philipo profile image


      7 years ago from Nigeria

      This is very educative. I never knew there are different types of power of attorney. Thanks for sharng.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      You have done a mrvellous job there. Researching and putting it all together.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So important akirchner - and we just don't do it. Sigh. I will get around to it, I suppose. Soon. Yes.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Great information on something that is SO important for everyone to know about!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm glad you found it useful PWalker. I do have to make some decisions here myself. Whew! It is no longer easy to just kick the bucket. Thanks for writing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very informative overview of POA, BkC, something I should be thinking about. Rated up and useful.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I must admit TheListLady that I have not done this yet but plan to 'get around to it.' I will work on it now. In fact it was thinking about it and doing the research that made me write this hub.

      You're welcome travel_man1971. Glad to read that this is done by your family. It pays to be well prepared.

      Glad to hear that sweetie1. Interesting that this is so widely done in Delhi.

      I'm glad you found the information useful Dexter Yarbrough. Thanks too for the vote!

      Thank you lmmartine!

    • lmmartin profile image


      7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Very informative -- as usual. Lynda

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Great information in a great hub. I am sure that many will find this useful. Thanks for your thoughtfulness! Voted up, up and away!

    • sweetie1 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Hi BK Creative, Delhi is 90% sold on POA. most of the house owners have POA and not registeries of the property they own. It is taken as as good as buying the house, but unfortunately it is still POA

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      My mom hired the service of our resident lawyer to make a special or limited power of attorney for the lease of our farm land.

      The service fee is very minimal. At times, during the construction of my house, my sister did the draft on the POA because my parents still own the land title.

      Thanks for sharing this, Ms. Bk!

    • TheListLady profile image


      7 years ago from New York City

      I have not done this. Of course I should and why I haven't, well I just don't know. But I need to and okay I will.

      Thanks BKCreative - for a very important reminder. Since we can no longer just keel over and be buried in the back yard - there is just so much that we have to take care of. Good grief but okay I'm going to work on it. Fortunately, I have a responsible son and I can go with the general POA. Whew.

      Thanks a million for this timely reminder. Rated up!


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