A power of attorney is a powerful document that grants a third party to make decisions on the client’s behalf. Many estate plans actually contain two separate kinds of power of attorney–a medical power of attorney and a general power of attorney.
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A medical power of attorney is a document in which you (called the “principal”) name someone you trust (called an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make medical decisions in the future. The person chosen to be a medical power of attorney for the client has the ability to make certain medical decisions for the client.
A power of attorney is a document that gives someone you trust the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf. The general power of attorney has broader powers, including the ability to make banking transactions, file tax returns, buy and sell stock, sell property, and so forth.
Both the medical power of attorney and general power of attorney can be made “durable,” which can either mean that the document will take effect when the client is mentally incompetent when or when the document is designed to remain in effect even if you are later declared incapacitated.
The durable general power of attorney is helpful when you want to give someone the authority to, for example, pay your bills or make transactions for you if you are unable in the future.