Setting up a durable power of attorney means that if you are ever incapacitated, your medical care and finances will be handled according to your wishes.

What Does Durable Power of Attorney Mean?

A durable power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone you trust the right to make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf. It’s a good safeguard to include in your estate plan, just in case a time comes when you are unable to make those decisions on your own. 

For instance, if you suffer a stroke and are unable to speak or write, your POA agent will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. Or, perhaps you were injured in an accident and the doctors had to induce a coma to save your life. In that case, your POA agent would be able to pay your bills for you or receive information about your medical condition.

Durable Power of Attorney in Arizona

The term “durable” refers to the fact that the POA document will stay in effect even if you become incapacitated. It can apply to general, financial, and medical power of attorney documents. Of course, the types of actions your POA agent can take will depend on the type of power of attorney granted. It also depends on the specific details laid out in the POA document. 

For example, military personnel might use a parental power of attorney to give their agent authority over their children while they are deployed overseas. Likewise, a special power of attorney applies only to the specific situations or events laid out in the document, such as negotiating the one-time sale of a piece of property. 

Types of Power of Attorney

Financial Power of Attorney   

  • Appointing a financial POA agent will allow them to handle your finances and property if you are ever unable. They are legally obligated to act in your best interests and according to your wishes. Most people choose their spouse, a close sibling, or a professional fiduciary to fulfill this role.

Medical Power of Attorney

  • Your medical POA agent, also known as a healthcare proxy, has the ability to make decisions about your medical care on your behalf. You can specify your preferences and the types of actions they are allowed to take in an advance directive or “living will.” A medical POA agent’s responsibilities are limited to healthcare matters only.

General Power of Attorney

  • This type of POA gives the agent authority to act in both financial and medical matters. It’s often used in cases where someone needs to manage the affairs of a family member who is severely disabled or who has special needs. With a general power of attorney, there is no need to go through the court process of gaining a conservatorship.

POA Laws Vary from State to State

Every state has different laws concerning power of attorney. For instance, in some states, all POA documents are automatically durable, and in others, you must specify that preference. If you move to another state or own property in another state, be sure to review their POA laws.

And since state laws change from time to time, you’ll also need to make sure that your POA documents stay updated. Meeting with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis will ensure that your agent will be legally able to act on your behalf if necessary.

Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney Today

Phelps LaClair is the leading estate planning firm in Arizona. Every day, in every way, we strive to be the very best team of estate planning professionals in the state. We are committed to building and maintaining lifetime relationships with our clients, and we have over 40 years of experience in the field. Find out for yourself what makes us the best—contact us to schedule a free consultation today.


Photo by Florian Schneider on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 4/1/2024. 

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