A power of attorney is a crucial document that grants another individual the power to make decisions for you should you become unable to do so for any reason. Per Washington and federal law, you can use the POA document to detail how much responsibility you want to grant the person you appoint, otherwise known as your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” You can also dictate when the agent’s powers begin and when they end. According to AARP, depending on your circumstances, you can use one of three types of POAs: A conventional power of attorney, a durable power of attorney or a springing power of attorney.

 As its name implies, a conventional power of attorney is the most common form of POA. The powers of the agent begin the moment you sign the document and end when you lose your mental faculties.

A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, goes into effect the moment you sign the document and does not end unless you cancel it. This is typically the most practical type of POA to use, as it remains in effect even after you become incapacitated, which is generally when you want a POA to kick in.

A springing power of attorney starts only after a stated event takes place, such as when you become incapacitated. While this type of POA is useful in a variety of types of situations, it is important that you include precise language as to what, exactly, the “springing” event is, otherwise your loved ones may not know when to enact the POA.

All types of powers of attorney expire upon your death. Should you pass away, your agent will no longer have the power to make decisions regarding your finances or your last wishes.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.