Patient Referral

What Are the Different Types of Power of Attorney?

healthcare power of attorney

When a person becomes unable to make his or her own decisions due to health, injury, or any other forms of unfortunate circumstances, a power of attorney can be put into place to help their loved ones make important decisions on their behalf. 

A power of attorney is a document used to guide the decision-making, enhance the comfort, and provide the best care for people who cannot ask for it themselves. This document allows a principal to appoint an agentmost often as loved one – to manage their affairs. At Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, the importance of self-determination is unrivaled and it must be ensured that everyone’s patients’ and loved one’s wishes are being respected – even in cases in which they are unable to communicate them.

In order to determine which of the different types of power of attorney will be most appropriate for any given circumstance, one must first understand each of them and in what ways they are able to offer the most help. 

Durable & Non-Durable Power of Attorney

Of each of the five kinds of power of attorney, durable and non-durable are found to be the most common. A durable power of attorney leaves a person with full control of another person’s decisions should they, at some point, become unable to make them. Usually taking effect when an individual becomes disabled or incapacitated, a durable power of attorney becomes effective immediately upon the incapacitation and expires upon its principal’s death.

Non-durable, on the other hand, is used for a set period of time or, most often, a single transaction. This could include the selling of one’s home, managing one’s stock, or addressing any important affair if said person happens to be abroad. Non-durable power of attorney becomes effective immediately after the person requests it. It can also be revoked upon the request of the principal as well as upon their incapacitation or death.

Medical Power of Attorney

The medical power of attorney is incredibly important to understand in any hospice setting as this kind of power of attorney gives another person the legal authority to make medical decisions on the patient’s behalf should they lose the ability to communicate and make decisions regarding treatment on their own. The agent in this case takes on the role of patient advocate, typically upon the consent of the presiding physician.

Springing Power of Attorney

This option is often an alternative to some of the different types of power of attorney – durable specifically. Some people, understandably, may not feel comfortable granting someone else power of attorney while they are healthy. This particular document is designed to take effect only upon a specified event, condition, or date. For example, if a person is having surgery and the doctors need authority to do something on his or her behalf, the agent can assist in this decision-making process. This gives individual in need has as much control as possible.

Limited Power of Attorney

Limited power of attorney – often referred to as “special” power of attorney – gives the agent the power to handle financial, investment, and banking matters. This kind of power of attorney is most often used for one-time transactions when the principal is unable to complete them due to incapacitation, illness, or prior commitments. The agent’s authority is required to remain exclusively within the scope of what was determined by the principal.

The power of attorney is put in place to protect the people that cannot protect themselves, with trusted loved ones by their sides. Understanding these different types of power of attorney often brings comfort and simplicity to much of the decision making that must be done in otherwise difficult times.

To find out about more resources for caregivers, visit the Crossroads website today.


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