A power of attorney may be special or limited to one specified act or type of act, or it may be general, and whatever it defines as its scope is what a court will enforce as being its scope. (It may also be limited as to time.) Under the common law, a power of attorney becomes ineffective if its grantor dies or becomes “incapacitated,” meaning unable to grant such a power, because of physical injury or mental illness, for example, unless the grantor (or principal) specifies that the power of attorney will continue to be effective even if the grantor becomes incapacitated (but any such power ends when the grantor dies). This type of power of attorney is called a durable power of attorney.
In some jurisdictions, a durable power of attorney can also be a “Health Care Power of Attorney”, an advance directive which empowers the attorney-in-fact to make health-care decisions for the grantor, up to and including terminating care and “pulling the plug” on machines keeping a critically and terminally ill patient alive. Health care decisions include the power to consent, refuse consent or withdraw consent to any type of medical care, treatment, service or procedure. A living will is a written statement of a person’s health care and medical wishes but does not appoint another person to make health care decisions.
©2011 James P Seidl Law Offices, PC