Understanding the Power of Attorney: Who Can Make Decisions for Me?


A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that gives someone the right to act as your agent when making decisions. Whether due to illness, absence, or incapacity, appointing a trusted individual to act as your attorney can provide peace of mind and ensure that your affairs are managed effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of the Power of Attorney, including its types, purposes, limitations, and how to choose the right attorney for your needs.

Power of Attorney

Purpose: The primary purpose of a POA is to appoint a trusted individual to make decisions and take actions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.

Types of POA: There are various types of POAs, including General POA, Limited POA, Durable POA, and Medical POA, each serving different purposes and scopes of authority.

Who Can Make Decisions for Me?

Capacity: To grant a Power of Attorney, you must be of sound mind and legal capacity.

Age: In most jurisdictions, you must be at least 18 years old to create a valid POA.

Voluntary Consent: You must voluntarily consent to appointing someone as your attorney and understand the implications of granting them authority over your affairs.

Types of Power of Attorney:

General Power of Attorney (GPOA)

  • A General Power of Attorney grants broad authority to the attorney-in-fact to manage the principal’s financial and legal affairs.
  • It allows the attorney to perform a wide range of actions on behalf of the principal, such as buying or selling property, entering into contracts, managing investments, and handling legal matters.
  • GPOAs are commonly used for business transactions, real estate dealings, and other complex financial matters.

Special Power of Attorney (SPOA):

  • A Special Power of Attorney grants limited or specific authority to the attorney-in-fact to perform only certain actions or transactions on behalf of the principal.
  • Unlike a GPOA, which grants broad authority, an SPOA is tailored to a specific purpose or transaction.
  • For example, an SPOA may authorize the attorney to sell a specific property or sign a particular contract on behalf of the principal.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA):

  • A Durable Power of Attorney remains valid even if the principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent.
  • It is designed to ensure that someone can continue to manage the principal’s affairs in the event of their incapacity.
  • DPOAs are particularly important for healthcare decisions and financial matters, as they allow the appointed attorney to act on behalf of the principal during times of incapacity.

Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA):

  • A Medical Power of Attorney, also known as a Healthcare Proxy or Advance Directive, grants the attorney-in-fact the authority to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal.
  • It is used when the principal is unable to make or communicate their own healthcare decisions due to illness, injury, or incapacity.
  • MPOAs are essential for ensuring that the principal’s wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care are respected and followed

Choosing the Right Attorney:

Trustworthiness: Select someone you trust implicitly to act in your best interests and uphold your wishes.

Competence: Ensure that your chosen attorney has the skills and knowledge necessary to handle the responsibilities entrusted to them.

Availability: Consider the availability of your attorney and their willingness to fulfill their duties when needed.

Communication: Choose someone who can effectively communicate with you, your healthcare providers, and other relevant parties.

Limitations and Responsibilities of the Attorney:

Fiduciary Duty: Attorneys have a legal obligation to act in your best interests and avoid conflicts of interest.

Scope of Authority: The authority granted to the attorney is outlined in the POA document and may be limited or specific to certain actions.

Accountability: Attorneys must keep accurate records of their actions and decisions made on your behalf and provide regular updates to you or other designated parties.

Revocation: You have the right to revoke or amend the POA at any time as long as you are of sound mind and legal capacity.


A Power of Attorney is a powerful legal tool that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. By understanding the types, purposes, limitations, and responsibilities associated with a POA, you can ensure that your affairs are managed effectively and in accordance with your wishes. Choosing the right attorney is crucial, so take the time to select someone you trust implicitly and who has the skills and availability to fulfill their duties. With a properly executed Power of Attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that your interests will be protected even in times of incapacity or illness.

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