There are a few different types of powers of attorney. Here are the more common ones:
1. General power of attorney: This document allows the power holder to sign the power grantor’s name on legal documents. The powers are broad and sweeping. The power holder owes a fiduciary duty to the power grantor. The power continues until the power ends on its own terms, or is revoked, the grantor dies or becomes incompetent.
2. Durable power of attorney: A power of attorney typically ends with the death or incompetence of the grantor. If the power is made “durable” then the power does not cease on the incapacity of the grantor. The power will end by either the death of the grantor, or the removal of the power holder by a court.
3. Springing power of attorney: This power of attorney comes into effect upon a future condition. Typically, this is the incapacity of the grantor. The power remains in effect until either the death of the grantor, removal by a court or capacity being restored to the power grantor.
4. Limited power of attorney: This power of attorney is limited to a specific transaction. Typically, this arises in a real estate context, where someone gives permission to sign closing documents on behalf of another.
5. Medical power of attorney: This is an entirely different type of document which allows a person to make medical decisions on behalf of another. These decisions cannot override the power grantor’s expressed wishes. The power only comes into effect if the power grantor is unable to make his wishes know. This document also does not allow one to make end of life decisions. If you have this document, you should discuss it with your primary care physicians ahead of any important procedure.
6. Guardianship declaration: This is document that appoints someone to care for your person if you are unable to care for yourself, or after a finding of incompetency.
7. Living will, physician’s directive, DNR: This is a companion document to the medical power of attorney. This document tells a health care provider whether or not you want to be kept alive in either an irreversible unconscious mental state, or use heroic measures to keep you alive if you are suffering from a terminal condition.