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What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

Learn about the different options for your POA and how to elect one.

A Power of Attorney, or POA, is a legal document that appoints someone to act on your behalf. You can provide specific or broad powers to that person.

POAs can be effective immediately when signed and will generally remain effective until revoked, or they can be written to become effective only upon a person’s incapacity. POAs and the authority granted terminate upon the principal’s death.  

A few examples of POAs include:

  • General – Grants your agent the power to do things you could do yourself with respect to your financial matters.
  • Special – A special, or limited, power of attorney authorizes your agent to perform certain specified tasks.
  • Springing – Does not go into effect until some point in the future, when a specific event has occurred.
  • Medical – A legal document that gives someone authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Portrait of Jeff Jurgemeyer
Tip from Jeff Jurgemeyer, CFP®

A word of caution on POAs: the appointed person may have the same ability to make financial, legal, or medical decisions as you! Therefore, you need to choose someone that you absolutely trust.