Special (Limited) Power of Attorney

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When one imagines “power of attorney,” in many cases one thinks of general durable power of attorney documents, which specify an agent – and sometimes a secondary agent – to have legal powers over one’s estate, finances, and/or business in the event that one is incapacitated. If you are considering naming a power of attorney, you can actually specify different areas for your agent to control. This is called specialized power of attorney, and is referred to as limited power of attorney in some states.

In specialized power of attorney documents, the grantor can clearly state very specific powers for the agent, which the agent may not act outside of.

Types of Special Power of Attorney

One of the most common specialized power of attorney documents is medical, or healthcare, power of attorney. In these documents, a grantor specifies an agent as a medical proxy, to make specifically medical decisions in the event the grantor is incapacitated. Financial power of attorney documents allow an agent specific powers such as access to bank accounts and personal checks, the right to make investment decisions, or the right to liquidate assets such as a house or car. Real estate powers of attorney only allow the agent to real estate transactions on the grantor’s behalf.

Military power of attorney documents allow a service member to designate a family member, friend, or spouse to handle legal and financial affairs while the service member is on a tour of duty. This agent can handle many responsibilities in the service member’s absence, including accepting delivery of personal property, managing household issues including taxes and finances, and buying or selling cars with the service member’s permission.

Most power of attorney documents, including general power of attorney documents, do not allow the agent to vote in public elections on behalf of the grantor. However, if the grantor becomes so disabled that they are not physically able to vote, but are still of sound mind, there are special power of attorney documents which allow naming a voting proxy to go to a polling station or fill out a paper ballot on behalf of the grantor.

Limitations on the Agent in Specialized Power of Attorney

Specialized powers of attorney allow the grantor to be very specific about the actions he or she wishes the agent to take. It also allows the grantor to grant different powers to different people. For example, if the grantor’s son is more capable of running the business, but his wife is more capable of making tough medical decisions, then these can be two separate documents that designate two separate agents who work in different capacities.

When Special Power of Attorney Ends

Although many people assume all power of attorney documents are durable – meaning they go into effect when the grantor is incapacitated in some way – this is not always true. The grantor can determine that any power of attorney document, except healthcare power of attorney, is nondurable, meaning the agent’s responsibilities cease if or when the grantor becomes incapacitated. Healthcare powers of attorney are the exception because the document exists to name an agent in the event the grantor is medically incapacitated.

A Special power of attorney form will cease when the grantor dies, unless otherwise stated. This includes general, durable, medical, and all financial powers of attorney. If the grantor has a will, then the will takes effect at the end of the grantor’s life.

Free State Specific Special Power of Attorney Forms

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