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Power of Attorneys for Aging Parents: Which One Is Right for You?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2022 | Estate Plan, Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) can be an excellent tool for managing an aging parent’s affairs in the event of illness, incapacitation, or even simply a need for extra help. POAs allow individuals (called the principal) to appoint someone (the agent) to act on their behalf in a specified capacity, usually regarding the management of their health or financial affairs. However, not all POAs result in the same abilities, so it is important to know which best suits your parent’s needs.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney is useful because it provides the agent with all of the powers allowed under state law, including those involving finances, real and personal property, and certain business transactions. The duration of a general POA is determined by the document, but it ends automatically when the principal becomes incapacitated. Because of this, they are typically not used to address health issues or end-of-life needs.

Durable Power of Attorney

Durable power of attorneys are similar to general power of attorneys, except the agent’s authority to act continues even if the principal has become incapacitated. The duration of a durable power of attorney is determined by the document, meaning the principal can decide what events trigger the POA’s revocation. Most commonly, durable POAs end upon the principal’s death, when a legal guardian is appointed, or when the principal revokes the POA themselves.

Springing Power of Attorney

In contrast, springing power of attorneys are POAs that only become effective upon the principal’s incapacitation or disability, as defined by either state law or the document. The primary benefit of this type of POA is that it allows your parent to maintain their sense of independence until they are physically or mentally incapable of managing their affairs anymore. The POA will only be able to “spring into action” if the principal is certified to be incapacitated as dictated by the terms of the document, which typically requires assistance from a physician. However, it is important to note that the process for certifying the principal’s incapacitation may take some time. Because of this, there may be a delay in the agent’s ability to make decisions on the principal’s behalf.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney allows the agent to make decisions within a specific scope, either because the principal is unable to act or wishes to appoint someone to act on their behalf. The document outlines the specific powers or duties provided to the agent, as well as when or how the POA will be revoked.

Medical Power of Attorney

Medical power of attorneys allow the agent to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal, either because the principal is incapacitated or wishes to appoint someone to act on their behalf. This document typically outlines the principal’s wishes regarding their own healthcare decisions, providing a guideline for the agent to follow. The duration of a medical POA is determined by the document, meaning it can end upon the principal becoming competent again, the principal revoking the document, or upon an event of the principal’s choosing. This type of POA is especially beneficial because it can alleviate stress surrounding any upcoming medical procedures while ensuring the principal’s wishes are followed.

Executing a power of attorney can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to determining which type best suits your loved one’s needs. If you have questions about executing a power of attorney for a loved one or are ready to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact Windrose Law Center PLC at 602-457-1846.

By: Aimee Harvey, Legal Intern, Windrose Law Center PLC