There are two broad categories of powers of attorney based on how expansive they are and the state of the principal.
Narrow or Broad Powers of Attorney
Narrow powers of attorney are limited to a specific task or situation the principal wants the agent to perform on their behalf. These powers of attorney can be as narrow as a POA to sell a vehicle or as broad as granting the agent the ability to act in all financial matters.
Among the more well-known powers of attorney is the medical power of attorney. This document grants the agent the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal when they are incapable of making those decisions themselves. An advanced directive or healthcare directive combines a medical POA with a living will to ensure that the principal’s wishes and interests are carried out in case of incapacity.
Powers of Attorney Based on Different Capacities
One of the main reasons that powers of attorney are created is to deal with the possibility of becoming incapacitated. Many POAs are designed based on the capacity of the principal.
- General Power of Attorney. A general or “non-durable” power of attorney can only work when the principal is competent. If the principal becomes incapacitated, the POA is no longer functional.
- Durable Power of Attorney. When creating a durable power of attorney, the principal intends for the agent to have authority no matter what. In Texas, durability is not presumed. This means a power of attorney will not automatically remain effective if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated unless it meets the specific requirements of a durable power of attorney.
- Springing Power of Attorney. Sometimes called a “standby” power of attorney, the springing POA only becomes effective if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated.