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General Power of Attorney vs. Special Power of Attorney

There are different types of powers of attorney. In this article, we’ll discuss what a power of attorney is, the difference between a special and a general power of attorney. Since each person has unique requirements when creating their powers of attorney, it’s best to have a thorough understanding of differences between various types of powers of attorney.

What is a power of attorney?

Before we discuss the differences, let us first understand what is a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person, called an agent, to act on behalf of the person who granted the power of attorney, known as the principal, in the event that the principal cannot represent him or herself personally or cannot make those decision his or herself.

What is the difference between a general and special power of attorney

A general power of attorney gives broad powers to the agent. The agent may act on behalf of the principal almost in all types of situations. For instance, the agent is able to make medical decisions, legal choices, or financial or business decisions.

A special power of attorney specifies what actions the agent can take. For example, you could create a special power of attorney which only allows your spouse to buy or sell your real estate. You could create another special power of attorney which would grant a manager of your business the ability to manage your business or make certain decisions in the event you are not present.

In other words, special powers of attorney allow you to be more specific and you can restrict the powers of the agent to specified transactions or situations.

Is a power of attorney active after someone passes away?

No. If you create a power of attorney, you appoint an agent to make decisions during your lifetime. If you pass away, other estate planning documents, usually a Will or a Trust then become effective.

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