Types of Power of Attorney


There are two types of Power of Attorney: Durable General Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney.

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Durable General Financial Power of Attorney


A Durable General Financial Power of Attorney or FPOA specifies the person or persons who you want to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated or for some other reason you need someone to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. For example, your FPOA is able to make banking transactions, pay bills, deal with pensions or government benefits etc., on your behalf.

The person you select, sometimes called your Power of Attorney, POA, or Agent, has broad authority to act on your behalf. Pennsylvania law establishes the “rules of the road” if your POA ever has to act in your place.

A Durable General Financial Power of Attorney is an important insurance policy in every estate plan. If for some reason you become incapacitated and you do not have this document, someone will have to petition the Orphans’ Court to be appointed your Guardian. This is a time consuming, expensive process that will greatly add to the already stressful situation caused by the circumstances of your incapacity.

In some instances, you will want your POA to be able to act for you if you are not able to present for an important event. For example, you might be traveling for business when your house is being sold and you’re unable to attend closing. Your POA can complete the transaction for you.

Health Care Power of Attorney


Likewise, a Health Care Power of Attorney or HPOA designates the person or persons who you want to make medical and health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated and can’t make these decisions for yourself. Your HPOA will have directions from you concerning your health care wishes if the HPOA must step in on your behalf. Your HPOA can act if you are temporarily incapacitated, a situation not covered by your Living Will. In the most critical and dire situations, your Living Will [link to Living Will blurb on Estate Planning page] provides clear direction on the care you want and don’t want to receive if you are in an irreversible vegetative state or coma.

Often people select the same person or persons to be their FPOA and HPOA, but you can select different individuals for these roles. It is important to select people you trust who both understand your wishes and will take action on your behalf.

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