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dinneen: AgingCare.com has a topic on that...look under the above title.
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dinneen: Look at AgingCare.com below
The Difference Between a POA, Durable POA and Living Will
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A power of attorney can be broad or limited. Since the power-of-attorney document is tailored for its specific purpose, your agent cannot act outside the scope designated in the document. For example, you may own a home in another state that you want to sell. Instead of traveling to that state to complete all the necessary paperwork, you can authorize someone already in that state to do this for you. When the transactions to sell the home are complete, the agency relationship ends, and the agent no longer holds any power.

A regular power of attorney ends when its purpose is fulfilled or at your incapacity or death.

A durable power of attorney serves the same function as a power of attorney. However, as its name implies, the agency relationship remains effective even if you become incapacitated. This makes the durable power of attorney an important estate planning tool. If incapacity should strike you, your agent can maintain your financial affairs until you are again able to do so, without any need for court involvement. That way, your family's needs continue to be provided for, and the risk of financial loss is reduced. A durable power of attorney ends at your death.

- See more at: http://www.360financialliteracy.org/Topics/In-Crisis/Planning-for-incapacity/What-is-the-difference-between-a-power-of-attorney-and-a-durable-power-of-attorney#.dpuf

Hope this helps.
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The answer varies by state. In general a POA becomes invalid when the individual loses the capacity to act versus a DPOA that continues to be valid even after the individual loses capacity. Clearly when talking about elders and wanting to make decisions for them as they continue to age, a DPOA is needed. Both a POA and DPOA have limitations including NOT impacting the persons basic personal rights such as controlling visitors.
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Since you are on the caregiver forum, you would be looking for the durable power of attorney. Finance or health (or both) you can deal with another person's situation when they can't.
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The answer varies by state. Some states offer Durable POAs ( valid as soon as signed) and "springing", which are triggered by an event or condition. What state are you inquiring about?
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