A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document used in a wide range of circumstances, from real estate deals to business partnerships. However, in estate planning, POAs generally fulfill several specific functions.

With a POA, you (the principal) designate another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf, making all decisions, either for all your affairs or for just the matters specified by the document. When drafted as part of an estate plan, most POAs only take effect if the principal becomes incapacitated.

POAs can serve the same objective as advanced directives or living wills (these are often called medical POAs), but they do not allow you to specifically direct your care. Instead, you entrust those decisions to your agent.

  • These documents are common for elderly individuals, but they may also be drafted to cover unforeseen circumstances, such as military personnel deploying overseas who want a designated individual to act on their behalf if they are incapacitated.
  • POAs compliment a will, as the two documents in tandem provide oversight for all financial activities, before and after death.
  • Often referred to as contingency documents, POAs can be term-limited or good until changed or revoked (a durable POA). Making alterations or creating a new POA is as simple as destroying the document and creating a new one, unlike trusts and other instruments common before death.
  • In the absence of a POA or other legally binding document like a living will, if a person becomes incapacitated, no decisions can be made on his or her behalf, or that of the estate, until the court appoints a guardian (guardianship) or conservator (conservatorship).


At Pasley, Nuce, Mallory & Davis, LLC, we have dedicated attorneys with known estate planning knowledge and experience, including Power of Attorneys, to help with your unique needs in planning your estate and preparing for the potential of future incapacitation.  Contact us at any of our four locations for a free consultation to see how we can put our experience to work for you.