Power of Attorney (POA)

A power of attorney (POA) document is written authorization that enables a person (called the “principal”) to appoint a trusted relative or friend (called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”), to handle specific health care decisions or legal and financial responsibilities on their behalf.

There are two types of POA: a general durable POA takes effect on signing without having to prove you are incapacitated. The other—called a “springing power”—only becomes effective upon the determination by a physician that you are unable to make your own decisions regarding your property or care.

Families should prepare these legal documents long before incapacitation is a factor. Without medical and financial POA, family members must go through a great deal of red tape and expense to obtain guardianship so they can make decisions on a loved one’s behalf.

Since the person you are naming as your “agent” under your DPOA will have very broad powers over your property and legal decisions, it is vital to choose your agent carefully.

Use AgingCare’s POA resources as your guide to understanding and obtaining power of attorney. Explore expert articles and Caregiver Q&A about power of attorney when preparing this important legal document to help an aging loved one.

Power of Attorney (POA) Articles

  • Power of Attorney Explained

    One of the most powerful tools for managing your affairs should you become mentally incapacitated is a durable power of attorney (DPOA). Understand the legal powers and responsibilities of assigning and holding POA.

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  • Durable vs. Springing Power of Attorney: What’s the Difference?

    Power of attorney (POA) documents are an important part of a person's legal plans.The way a POA document is written determines when it goes into effect and specifies what powers the agent holds.

    94 Comments
  • Things You Can and Can't Do With Power of Attorney

    Whether you’ve been named as someone else’s power of attorney (POA) or you’re looking to appoint one for yourself, know what rights, responsibilities and limitations come with this legal designation.

    170 Comments
  • How Much Does It Cost to Get a Power of Attorney Document?

    It’s easy to purchase an affordable power of attorney (POA) form online, but this option comes with some risks. An elder law attorney can explain how this tool works, help you avoid pitfalls and customize POA documents to meet your unique needs.

    14 Comments
  • How to Sign as Power of Attorney for Your Elderly Parent

    When acting as power of attorney (POA) for an aging parent or loved one, your signature must make it clear that you are acting on their behalf and not assuming personal responsibility for the contract or transaction.

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  • When POA Isn’t Enough: Authorizations Needed to Act on a Loved One’s Behalf

    Power of attorney documents allow caregivers to access personal information and make vital decisions for elderly loved ones, but some institutions require additional documentation. See what other authorizations you may need to apply for.

    19 Comments
  • What to Do When the Bank Refuses a Financial POA Document

    Sometimes even a legally prepared power of attorney (POA) document is refused by the bank. Know why financial institutions hesitate to grant POAs access to accounts and how to remedy this situation.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Power of Attorney (POA)

Q: What are the types of POA?
POA is an important legal document to include in elder care planning. The way a POA document is written determines when it goes into effect and specifies what powers the agent holds. Learn More: Types of POA
Q: What are the responsibilities of a POA?
Power of attorney designations come with certain rights as well as fiduciary responsibilities. Learn More: Things You Can and Can’t do With Power of Attorney
Q: Should a family member be designated POA?
Individuals usually choose a trusted family member to handle the responsibly of making health and/or financial decisions on their behalf, but it is important to understand the effects POA designations can have on family relationships. Read: When Family Members Feud Over POA
Q: How do I sign a document as POA?
When acting as power of attorney (POA) for an aging parent or loved one, your signature must make it clear that you are acting on their behalf and not assuming personal responsibility for the contract or transaction. Learn More: How to Sign as POA for your Elderly Parent
Q: What do I do if the bank refuses our POA document?
Some financial institutions hesitate to grant POAs access to accounts. Advance preparation and a properly written POA document may remedy this frustrating situation. Read: What to Do When the Bank Refuses a Financial POA