The Difference Between a General, Limited, Durable, and Springing Power of Attorney
There are many types of Powers of Attorney, each with its own specific purpose and level of authority. This article explains the difference between General, Limited, Durable, and Springing Powers of Attorney.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint someone else (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to act on their behalf. In ln Louisiana, the arrangement is referred to as the law of “mandate.” There are several types of POAs, each with its own specific purpose and level of authority.
While there are many different types of Powers of Attorney, these legal documents can be broadly grouped into four (4) categories: 1. General; 2. Limited; 3. Durable; and 4. Springing.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney is a type of POA that gives the agent broad authority to act on the principal’s behalf. This can include financial matters, legal matters, healthcare matters, and any other actions the principal wishes to authorize. The general POA is different from a Limited POA (discussed below) because it is intended to be broad in scope and not limited to specific acts.
The duration of a General Power of Attorney may be stipulated. A General Power of Attorney may also be “durable” meaning the effectiveness will survive the incapacity of the principal, which allows the agent to manage the affairs of the principal during a period of incapacity. A General Power of Attorney that is not “durable” will terminate by operation of law in the event the principal becomes incapacitated.
Limited Power of Attorney
A Limited Power of Attorney is a type of POA that gives the agent specific, but limited authority to act on the principal’s behalf. This can include a single transaction or a specific type of action. For example, a principal may give an agent a Limited POA to sell a specific asset, or to make certain decisions such as healthcare decisions.
A limited POA is useful when a principal wants to give someone else authority to take a specific action but doesn’t want to give them broad, ongoing authority. It’s also useful in situations where the principal is unable to handle certain aspects of their affairs due to time or distance constraints. A Limited Power of Attorney can be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the principal.
When creating a POA, it’s important to be specific about the authority being granted to the agent. The scope of a Limited Power of Attorney should be narrowly drafted to include specific limitations or restrictions on the actions of the agent that reflect the wishes of the principal.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a type of POA that remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. This means that the agent can continue to make decisions and take actions on behalf of the principal, even if the principal is no longer able to do so themselves. Durable POAs can be used for a variety of purposes, including financial matters (such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, and investing) and legal matters (such as signing documents and making court appearances) while the principal is incapacitated.
A Durable Power of Attorney may be limited or general. The term “durable” only refers to the duration of the mandate.
One of the key benefits of a durable POA is that it can help avoid the need for a court-appointed curator, guardian, or conservator. If a person becomes incapacitated and does not have a durable POA in place, their family may need to go to court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions on their behalf. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process. With a durable POA in place, the agent can step in and take over decision-making without the need for court involvement.
Springing Power of Attorney
A “Springing” POA only goes into effect when the principal becomes incapacitated. A Springing Power of Attorney is not effective until the principal becomes incapacitated. An “immediate” POA is effective when signed (immediately).
A Springing Power of Attorney can be either general or limited. The terms “general” and “limited” refer to the scope of authority granted under the Power of Attorney. The terms “immediate” and “springing” refer to the date when the Power of Attorney becomes effective. Technically, a Springing POA is durable because it survives the incapacity of the principal. However, a Durable Power of Attorney may also be immediate (not springing) if it survives the incapacity of the principal.
When creating a Power of Attorney, your chosen agent will be making important decisions on your behalf, so it’s essential to choose someone you can trust to act in your best interests. Additionally, it’s important to review and update your POA on a regular basis, especially if your circumstances change. This can help ensure that your wishes are carried out, even if you become incapacitated.
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