Estate planning goes beyond just wills and inheritance. A crucial element is the power of attorney (POA), a legal document authorizing someone you trust to act on your behalf in managing your financial and legal affairs if you become incapacitated. This article explores the role of POA in estate planning and how it empowers you to ensure your wishes are carried out, even when you cannot manage them yourself.

Granting Authority with Purpose

A POA grants your chosen agent (the person you appoint) the authority to handle various aspects of your life, depending on the type of POA:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This most common POA remains valid even if you become incapacitated. It empowers your agent to manage your finances, property, and legal matters.
  • Specific Power of Attorney: This POA limits the agent’s authority to a specific task, such as selling a particular property or managing a bank account.
  • Springing Power of Attorney: This POA becomes active only upon the occurrence of a specific event, such as a medical diagnosis or being declared incapacitated.

A Broader Scope of Power

A POA can encompass various aspects of your life beyond just financial matters:

  • Healthcare Decisions: A healthcare POA authorizes your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • Real Estate Transactions: A real estate attorney can grant your agent the authority to buy, sell, or manage your real estate property.
  • Government Benefits: Your agent can manage applications and access benefits on your behalf with a properly drafted POA.

Selecting the Right Person for the Job

The person you choose as your agent should be someone you trust implicitly with your financial well-being and legal matters. Here are key considerations:

  • Trustworthiness and Integrity: This is paramount. Choose someone with a proven track record of responsible decision-making.
  • Financial Acumen: For a general POA, your agent should be comfortable managing finances and making sound financial decisions.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial. Choose someone you can openly communicate with about your wishes and preferences.
  • Availability and Willingness: Ensure your chosen agent is willing to take on the responsibility and has the time to dedicate to managing your affairs if needed.

Crafting a Clear and Comprehensive POA

  • Consulting with an Attorney: An estate planning lawyer can ensure your POA is legally sound, specific about the powers granted, and meets your individual needs.
  • Understanding State Laws: POA laws vary by state. An attorney can ensure your POA complies with your state’s specific requirements.
  • Review and Updates: As your circumstances change, revisit and update your POA to reflect your current wishes and the capabilities of your agent.

For matters related to real estate, consider consulting with a real estate attorney, and for family law issues, a family law lawyer can provide valuable guidance.


A power of attorney is an essential tool in a well-rounded estate plan. By appointing a trusted agent and outlining their specific authorities through a legally sound POA, you gain peace of mind knowing your affairs will be managed according to your wishes, even if you are unable to do so yourself. Remember, a POA is just one aspect of estate planning.