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What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

A Power of Attorney, also known as a POA or a power of attorney agent, is the most common way to address the issue of managing finances when you are unable to do so, like when you become mentally incompetent, for example.

What are the Common Types of Powers of Attorney?

There are several types of Powers of Attorney documents, including General Power of Attorney, Special Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney. 

General Power of Attorney

A General Power of Attorney gives very broad powers to your appointed agent to manage your financial and personal affairs.  Powers include the ability to operate a business, make gifts, make living trust transfers, grant a disclaimer power, and handle a personal residence.

Special Power of Attorney

A Special Power of Attorney allows you to specify more limited powers to you agent, like the ability to manage your checking account or the ability to access your safety deposit box.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to legally authorize another person to make decisions about your medical care when you are not able to.

What if my POA Agent Doesn't Follow my Wishes?

A number of agent provisions are included in a Power of Attorney. Agent provisions clarify issues related to how the agent handles your affairs including: misconduct, compensation, and accountings of the agent's actions. 

Can I Change my Agent at a Later Time?

You can revoke a signed power of attorney at any time, regardless of the reason. For example, you may change your mind about the POA agent you selected. The revocation should be made in writing using a Revocation of Power of Attorney form, and you must provide notice to the agent under the Power of Attorney that you are revoking.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?

Some states allow you to make your Power of Attorney document "durable." A "durable" power of attorney is effective even if you become mentally incompetent or are otherwise incapacitated, whereas a non-durable POA is no longer valid if either of those incidents occur.

Can I Create my Power of Attorney Online?

You can. We provide all the popular Power of Attorney forms, such as Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Special Power of Attorney, and General Power of Attorney. When you create yours, remember to appoint an organized, trustworthy person as your agent and furnish them with a copy of your POA. You should also tell your agent where you keep your original Power of Attorney and have a frank discussion about what you'd done in the event you are no longer able to take care of your own health or finances.

About Frederic Goodwill

I am a trial and transactional attorney with over twenty years of experience in courtrooms and boardrooms across the country. I specialize in employment, environmental, insurance, and education law as well as business, estate planning and real estate law. View my website at for more information.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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