What is a Permanent Power of Attorney and How Does it Work?

A permanent power of attorney is an alternative to guardianship only if it is granted before you become mentally incapacitated. Learn more about how it works.

What is a Permanent Power of Attorney and How Does it Work?

A permanent power of attorney is an alternative to guardianship, but only if it is granted before you become mentally incapacitated. To grant a power of attorney, you must have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing. Once you've lost that capacity, it's too late for you to grant a power of attorney. At that time, the court will have to appoint a guardian or conservator for you, if necessary.

A power of attorney may be durable or non-durable. A permanent power of attorney will remain in effect even after you become incapacitated. A non-durable power of attorney will end if you become incapacitated. However, in Pennsylvania, all powers of attorney signed on or after December 16, 1992 are enduring, unless the document specifically states otherwise.

You can also create a Springing power of attorney, which comes into effect at a specific time in the future or when something specific happens. For example, it can take effect if you become disabled. In addition to your agent's power to make donations on your behalf, many powers of your agent are in fact governed by state law. A power of attorney may end for several reasons, such as when the principal revokes the agreement or dies, when a court invalidates it, or when the agent can no longer fulfill the described responsibilities.

If no land is to be dealt with, it is not legally necessary to sign a power of attorney in front of a notary or have it registered, but notarization may be prudent. The principal can sign a permanent power of attorney for health care, or health care POA (HCPOA), if he wants an agent to have the power to make health-related decisions. As with powers of attorney that apply to civilians, military powers of attorney vary in coverage, and the authority you grant is entirely up to you. The person named in a power of attorney to act on your behalf is commonly referred to as your de facto agent or agent. The adult who is given the power to consent to the specified treatment must also sign the document.

If you are incapacitated due to illness or a sudden accident, a durable power of attorney document allows your agent to continue acting in your interest. It is important that the lawyer preparing his power of attorney draws up the document in a way that does not expose his lawyer in fact to unforeseen consequences of estate tax. In most cases, a power of attorney will also be finalized automatically if your spouse is your agent and a divorce is filed. The authority that a power of attorney gives to your agent may be as limited as selling your car for you or as broad as making financial and health care decisions on your behalf. Generally, the law of the state in which you reside at the time of signing a power of attorney will govern the powers and actions of your agent under that document. The term power of attorney (POA) refers to a legal authorization that gives a designated person the right to act on behalf of another person.

Others, however, in order to empower their agent to minimize state wealth tax, could continue or add such power. However, it is recommended that you meet regularly with your lawyer to review your power of attorney and consider whether your choice of agent still meets your needs and whether developments in state law affect your power of attorney.