A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints a person—an “attorney-in-fact” or agent—to act in your place for general or specific purposes. Usually, a power of attorney comes into play when you either become incapacitated in some manner, or if you can’t act on your own behalf for a particular reason. When we say “attorney-in-fact,” we do not mean an actual attorney, but like an attorney represents your legal interests, your agent under a power of attorney “represents” you. A power of attorney may be either general or specific in nature. These powers of attorney may either be durable or non-durable, and also springing. Here is a look at the differences:
A general power of attorney authorizes an agent to transact business for the principal (the person the agent represents). This is an unlimited power of attorney, which allows the agent to make medical decisions, legal choices, and/or financial decisions. General powers of attorney are intended to cover all the powers state law permits an agent to possess.
- Limited, Specific, or Special
A power of attorney with restrictions may be referred to as limited, specific, or special. This type of power of attorney limits the agent’s authority to those specified in the power of attorney. This could be a medical power of attorney, or a power of attorney limited to financials, or many other things. Furthermore, special or limited powers of attorney are restricted by time or scope, and may involve single transactions.
This type of power of attorney survives even while a principal is incapacitated; otherwise, a power of attorney that is not durable and is enacted prior to incapacity will become ineffective. In Colorado we have the Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act (UPOA), under which it is presumed that unless stated, a power of attorney is durable in nature and will continue if the principal becomes incapacitated.
In general, a power of attorney becomes effective when it is executed. However, it may also become effective upon the happening of certain events as provided by the principal in the power of attorney. This is referred to as a spring power of attorney. Usually, springing powers of attorney are activated upon the incapacity of the principal.
Under Colorado law, a power of attorney terminates when:
- The principal dies;
- The principal becomes incapacitated, if the power of attorney is not durable;
- The principal revokes the power of attorney;
- The power of attorney provides that it terminates;
- The express purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished; or
- The principal revokes the agent’s authority or the agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns, and the power of attorney does not provide for another agent to act under the power of attorney.
If you need help drafting a power of attorney, be sure to seek the experience of an attorney. There are certain requirements you need to fulfill in order to properly execute any type of power of attorney.
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