Justin, My dad recently named me as his power of attorney, and he emailed me a copy of the document. From what I can tell, it appears to be something called a “springing durable power of attorney.” Can you tell me what exactly this means? – Todd
Todd, I’m glad to hear that your father is getting some planning done, and I think I’ll be able to clear up some of your confusion on exactly what he sent you. There are several different types of power of attorney documents. The first major distinction is between general and healthcare power of attorney. As the name implies, a healthcare power of attorney appoints someone else to make healthcare decisions if your father is unable to make those decisions for himself. A general power of attorney deals more with business and financial decisions. From the information you provided, it seems that your father may not have executed a healthcare power of attorney. If he hasn’t, I would definitely recommend that you discuss that with him because a general power of attorney does not cover healthcare decisions.
The second major distinction I would make is between durable and non-durable powers of attorney. Durable is the way to go—that simply means the document survives any illness or incapacity your father might suffer from in the future.
The third major distinction you need to know about is springing versus immediate powers of attorney. Your father executed a springing power of attorney, which means you have no authority to handle any of your father’s affairs unless and until he has been declared incapacitated. An immediate power of attorney, as the name implies, is effective immediately. I prefer immediate documents to avoid the necessity of obtaining a declaration of incapacity in the future.