The term power of attorney is commonly heard in the estate planning industry. Still, many people don’t understand what it means. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between a limited and general power of attorney. This will help you when talking about your estate planning options with your probate attorney. So, let’s dive right in!


What Is a Power of Attorney?


A power of attorney is basically a legal document that gives power to a person (an agent) to take actions and make legal decisions on behalf of someone else (a principle). There are several reasons for creating a power of attorney, including being ill, disabled, or otherwise incapable of making decisions for yourself.


A power of attorney ends when the principle dies, revokes the document, or the agent is no longer able to carry out their duties. The details and length of an agent’s legal power and authority are specified in the power of attorney document.


There are several different types of power of attorney. Two of the most common are a limited power of attorney (LPOA) and general power of attorney (GPOA). LPOA and GPOA are completely opposite of each other. Here’s how:


Limited Power of Attorney


An agent, given the limited power of attorney, can act on the behalf of a principle in specific events and matters. This can include retirement account management, single real estate transactions, or simpler matters such as motor vehicle sales, etc. The limited power of attorney also restricts the length of time an agent has to carry out his or her duties. The specific details of a limited power of attorney are all included in the legal documentation.


Before signing the document, both parties should be aware of what is specified in the contract. The LPOA is further divided into two types based on particular circumstances.


  • Springing power is typically used in matters such as will or family trust funds.
  • Durable LPOA means that the agent can continue to perform legal actions on behalf of the principle even if the principal is dead. Most LPOAs are non-durable, meaning the agent loses his or her power with the client’s death.



General Power of Attorney


In a general power of attorney, the agent is given a broad grant of power by the client. This is why this is also referred to as a universal power of attorney. Under the general power of attorney, the attorney-in-fact can manage almost every matter and do everything that a principle would typically do for themselves. Thus, the general power of attorney is a compelling document.


Even though general powers of attorney allow the agent to command a lot of power and authority, some decisions and actions are taken by the principle. For example, the last will and testaments. Additionally, the POA cannot vote on behalf of the client or take legal actions that require legal or specialist approval, such as medical decisions, without specific documentation.


LPOA and GPOA can be different based on different states. Therefore, it is always best to consult your lawyer before handing legal authority over to a third party.


Contact Derryberry & Associates for a Free Consultation


If you need assistance creating a power of attorney, our reliable Lancaster probate attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


Limited vs. General Power of Attorney

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