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Springing Power of Attorney: How is it Different from a Durable POA?

Have questions about Springing POA? Trust & Will overviews Durable vs Springing Power of Attorney, and what you need to know about each role.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

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It is important to prepare for the unexpected as we get older. For example, do you know who would make your medical decisions if you became unable to make them yourself? This responsibility, and more, can be granted through a Springing Power of Attorney -- something that is crucial to consider as you plan for your future. 

A Springing Power of Attorney is one type of Power of Attorney that can be established within an Estate Plan. There are several conditions involved in the creation of a Springing POA that are helpful to understand. Keep reading for an overview of this responsibility and learn when you should consider designating one for your needs: 

What Is a Springing Power of Attorney?

A Springing Power of Attorney is an important legal designation giving someone the power to make medical or financial decisions on behalf of another person, but only once certain conditions are met. A Springing Power of Attorney often takes effect after the person who created the document (called the Principal) becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions independently. 

This is just one of several types of Power of Attorney designations and is commonly included as part of an Estate Plan. The Springing Power of Attorney allows the nominated individual (called the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact) to make certain decisions for the Principal. The exact responsibilities of the Agent will be described within the actual document. Many individuals nominate their spouse, sibling, or other trusted relative to be their Springing Power of Attorney. 

There are some legal guidelines the Principal must follow in order for a Springing Power of Attorney to take effect. In most cases, a doctor will be required to certify that the Agent is incapacitated or unable to make decisions independently. This process is regulated on a state level, so be sure to consult the laws in your area before moving forward. 

Why You Might Need a Springing Power of Attorney 

There are a few situations where it can be helpful to nominate a Springing Power of Attorney. A common example is when members of the military are deployed overseas. Before leaving, they may appoint a Springing Power of Attorney to make important medical or financial decisions on their behalf if anything were to happen. If nothing happens, the document will not take effect at that time. 

It is typically recommended to nominate a Springing Power of Attorney before age or medical conditions become serious factors. That way, loved ones can immediately step in if a severe illness or accident were to occur. Without a Power of Attorney in place, there may be certain legal steps to follow before your family members are permitted to manage affairs on your behalf. 

Durable vs Springing Power of Attorney

Among the various types of Power of Attorney are two common designations: Durable and Springing. Although the responsibilities of these two roles can be similar, they always begin at different times. It can be helpful to review the differences to better understand which type of Power of Attorney to include in your own Estate Plan. 

So, what is a Durable POA? A Durable Power of Attorney allows the Agent to begin managing affairs on behalf of the Principal as soon as the document is created. Think of it as a permission slip: once signed, a Durable Power of Attorney allows the Agent to take over any responsibilities that are included within the document. This can be especially helpful for seniors who nominate close family members to handle their legal or financial matters. While they may be able to manage these things on their own, it is often much easier for loved ones to step in and help.

The main difference between a Durable and Springing POA is that one is conditional, while the other is not. Many people describe these two roles as active vs inactive. For example, the Durable Power of Attorney is an active role because the responsibilities begin as soon as the document is created. On the other hand, a Springing Power of Attorney remains inactive until the Principal becomes incapacitated. 

Conclusion 

Getting older can signal a lot of exciting changes, but with each new milestone it becomes even more important to create an Estate Plan. Think about how you want your medical and financial decisions managed as you age, and whether or not a Springing Power of Attorney is right for you. This document can provide you with the freedom to continue handling your own responsibilities, while also providing the peace of mind that a loved one could step in when necessary. Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!

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