What's the Difference Between a General and a Durable Power of Attorney
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What’s the Difference Between a General and a Durable Power of Attorney?

Since a power of attorney is among the most vital legal documents you can have, it’s vital to know if you want a durable power of attorney or general power of attorney.

One of the most frequent terms used in estate planning is “power of attorney.” Certainly, it is one of the most vital documentation you can have, and there are several kinds of powers of attorney, each having its own guidelines and stipulations.

Unsure of which one and/or ones you may want to put in place? The following is a fast description of the different kinds of powers of attorney to help you choose.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is legal documentation through which you, being the principal, designate an individual to have the authority to make decisions and take action for you. This individual is known as your agent or attorney in fact. Remember that the individual you designate does not have to be a lawyer.

Durable powers of attorney, occasionally known as a DPOA, means there is terminology in the legal document providing that this power expands to your agent even in an event you become debilitated and unable to make decisions on your own.

A durable power of attorney commonly stays in effect until the principal reverses the powers or passes away but can also be discontinued when a court discovers the document invalid or takes away the agent’s authority, or when the principal gets a divorce, and the spouse was the named agent.

General powers of attorney, at the same time, concludes should you become debilitated, in which might be a good reason for having one in place, subject to your needs. You may not want to find out that a general power of attorney has concluded—just as those powers may be needed most.

Common Powers of a Power of Attorney

Whereas it is up to you as the principal to determine exactly what powers your power of attorney will have, some of the more common powers comprise of the following:

  • Paying of bills, in addition to signing checks
  • Purchasing, selling, and administering real estate
  • Managing business transactions
  • Borrowing capital
  • Managing legal or insurance claims
  • Tax return Filing
  • Donating or gifting
  • Making medical choices

One important alternative to think about when creating a power of attorney is if you should make it general or limited. Whereas a general power of attorney may include a combo of the powers stated above. Comprising of medical, business, legal, and financial —limited power of attorney is what it is: it limits the powers allowed to the agent.

This also can be known as a special power of attorney and might even refer to a single process or event, like the authority to sign an agreement when the principal can’t due to ailment.

Limited or special powers of attorney can also be limited to a specific time period.

Kinds of Durable Powers of Attorney

There are 2 primary kinds of durable power of attorney:

  • Financial Power of Attorney. Also called a durable power of attorney concerning finances, this gives the individual of your choosing the authority to handle your financial affairs should you become debilitated.
  • Medical Power of Attorney. Also known as a durable power of attorney concerning healthcare, this gives the individual of your choosing the authority to handle medical decisions for you if you can’t do it on your own.

Why are there different kinds of power of attorney? You might discover that you want one individual to make medical decisions on your behalf, like your spouse, but that your business associate is in a better position concerning business-relevant decisions.

How to Obtain Power of Attorney

Getting a power of attorney created may be as easy as using an online method. However, take note that state laws differ concerning the determination of a power of attorney. For this reasoning, you need to always be sure your document is carried out according to your state’s laws.

When choosing to devise a power of attorney, make sure to contemplate about all the aspects you might want your agent to manage and think carefully the individual—or individuals —you are going to designate to be in charge of your affairs, particularly in case you become debilitated.

Additionally, be sure to re-examine your power of attorney documents routinely, at least once annually, to be sure that they still are according to your wishes.

When you have a power of attorney in place, particularly a durable power of attorney, may offer you great peace of mind, knowing your affairs will be managed by an individual of your choice and not an individual chosen by the court—that additionally could end up costing time and money.


  1. Michelle Kaminsky, E. (2021, May 13). What’s the difference between a durable and a regular power of attorney? Retrieved June 10, 2021, from https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-a-durable-and-a-regular-power-of-attorney

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