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Does a Power of Attorney Expire?

Different Forms of a Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes an agent to legally conduct the affairs of the individual who signed the power of attorney. There are different forms of power of attorney, and each type grants the agent specific powers and limitations. Each type of power of attorney also has a different expiration trigger depending on its use.

A power of attorney template or POA form can be used to nominate a power of attorney to represent an individual and their affairs in several different areas should they become incapacitated:

  • A standard power of attorney
  • A springing power of attorney
  • A medical power of attorney
  • A durable power of attorney

Standard vs. Springing Power of Attorney

A standard power of attorney gives the agent the authority to act on behalf of the principal in everyday legal and financial matters. The standard power of attorney expires when the principal dies, becomes incapacitated, or revokes the power of attorney in writing.

In contrast to the standard power of attorney, a springing power of attorney does not become effective until the principal becomes incapacitated.

This type of power of attorney is used if the principal foresees an illness or absence that will prevent them from acting in their own interests. Once the power of attorney is invoked, it usually is irrevocable unless the principal regains their capacity to make decisions for themselves and can revoke the power of attorney; otherwise it does not expire until the principal’s death.

A Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney gives the agent the authority to make medical decisions for the principal once invoked. These decisions can encompass all medical situations up to and including end-of-life decisions. The principal can typically modify or restrict certain powers of the agent when it comes to terminating life support if they so choose.

This type of power of attorney only relates to healthcare decisions and usually does not expire until the principal dies or is no longer in need of the specific medical care, at which point it expires.

A Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is the most pervasive and encompassing legal provision a principal can grant to the agent. The durable power of attorney is invoked when the principal can no longer act in his or her own best interests or properly conduct legal and financial affairs in a reasonable day-to-day manner. When this incapacity occurs, the agent assumes the responsibility of the principal’s affairs. This type of power of attorney only expires upon the death of the individual.

It is very difficult to revoke a durable power of attorney once established because it must be shown in court that the principal is of sound mind and capable of providing for themselves. If this were the case, the durable power of attorney would normally not have been invoked in the first place.

As with any legal affair, researching and understanding the various aspects of a power of attorney is vital prior to signing one or even being considered as an agent for someone else. Understanding the roles and responsibilities as well as defining the powers granted to the agent are all important elements that must be thoroughly considered prior to signing a power of attorney. If there are any doubts, it is a good idea to consult with a legal expert that can assist with your decision making.