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What are the different types of powers of attorney?

The laws of New York allow a person to delegate his or her legal authority to make certain decisions by executing a power of attorney. The person who executes the document is called the principal and the person to whom authority is delegated is referred to as the attorney-in-fact or agent. A power of attorney may be created to cover only a limited time period and a specific activity or it may be drafted to cover an indefinite amount of time or a broad area of decision-making.

The three main types of powers of attorney that may be used in New York are durable, nondurable and springing. The choice of type depends heavily on the facts of the situation. A nondurable power of attorney may be utilized if the principal desires to delegate responsibility for a single transaction such as the sale of a home or for a limited time.

Durable powers of attorney generally remain effective indefinitely. They typically take effect upon their execution and are revoked either by an act of the principal or the principal's death. A durable power of attorney may authorize the agent to act even if the principal has lost the physical or mental ability to make decisions.

A springing power of attorney is one that becomes effective at a future date or on the occurrence of a future event, rather than on execution. An estate planning lawyer may draft a springing power of attorney whereby the agent will step in to make health care choices or financial decisions on behalf of the principal, should the principal become incapacitated in the future. If that event never occurs, then the springing power of attorney will not take effect. Powers of attorney are flexible instruments, and as such they may be tailored to fit the unique requirements of a particular situation.

Source: Internet Legal Research Group, "Power of Attorney Frequently Asked Questions, State of New York", October 28, 2014

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