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The different types of powers of attorney

This post will examine the different types of powers of attorney that clients may wish to include with their estate planning documents.

Powers of attorney allow another person, who is known as your attorney-in-fact, to act in your stead as a fiduciary of you, the principal.

One type of power of attorney is known as limited. These useful agreements are often used by parties who are buying or selling a property or stocks or bonds. The principal signs a document permitting his or her attorney-in-fact to conduct specific business transactions on his behalf, which may be restricted to a one-time sale or purchase, or be set up to allow ongoing transactions. However, the scope of these agreements is very narrow, and restrictions can be imposed.

A general power of attorney permits the designated agent to act in any legal undertaking on behalf of the principal. This gives an attorney-in-fact wide latitude to conduct business and make decisions. It should only be granted to those who can be trusted implicitly.

A third type of POA is a durable power of attorney. Whereas a general POA remains in effect while the principals have the capacity to make decisions for themselves, durable POAs contain clauses that specify that the passage of time or the incapacity or disability of the principal does not affect its legitimacy.

Other durable powers of attorney specify that they do not take effect until the principal is already incapacitated or otherwise disabled.

Medical powers of attorney allow your designated agent to make decisions regarding your health care once you are no longer able to do so. They do not have the authority to act in other matters not pertaining to your medical needs.

Not everyone will need each of these POA documents to be included in their estate plan. Your attorney can assist you with deciding which documents are best for your particular circumstances.

Source: malegislature.gov, "Section 5-501," accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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