National Estate Planning Awareness Week: Powers of Attorney

October 23, 2020


Our last Spotlight post for National Estate Planning Awareness Week will take a brief look at powers of attorney. In general, a power of attorney is a document that allows a person to make decisions or take actions on another person's behalf. Read on for more information and resources at the SLL on this topic.

Types of Powers of Attorney

To start, let's look at a few short definitions of the most common types of powers of attorney. These definitions are from an article written by the Legal Hotlines for Texans at the Texas Legal Services Center that appears on Texas Law Help:

  • General power of attorney – a general power of attorney gives the agent the authority to act in a broad range of matters. A general power of attorney ends if the principal becomes mentally or physically disabled or incapacitated.
  • Limited or special power of attorney – a limited or special power of attorney gives the agent the authority to handle a specific matter, or for a limited period of time.
  • Durable power of attorney – a durable power of attorney is a general power of attorney, but continues if the principal becomes mentally or physically disabled or incapacitated.
  • Springing power of attorney – a springing power of attorney gives the agent authority only if and when the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated.
  • Medical power of attorney – a medical power of attorney gives the agent the authority to make medical treatment decisions for you if you come mentally or physically unable to make your own decisions.

Powers of Attorney Research Guide

If you're not quite sure where to continue to learn about powers of attorney, we suggest checking out the library's research guide on the subject, which has additional pages for durable powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney. This guide identifies different sections of Texas law that govern powers of attorney, includes a lot of plain language resources that help explain these concepts for people who are unfamiliar with legal jargon, and also links to several sample forms for creating your own power of attorney document. Many of these resources are freely available online.

E-Books From the Digital Collection

If you'd like to do a bit more research on powers of attorney, we have a number of e-books available on this particular topic in the library's digital collection. These resources are only available to SLL library patrons, so make sure you register for a free library account with us if you haven't done so already.

The complete power of attorney guide for consumers and small businesses: everything you need to know explained simply

This e-book is likely the most accessible and thorough title we have in our collection on powers of attorney, with chapters dedicated to in-depth discussions of each type. It is written for a general audience, so some of the information may not be applicable to Texas. However, Chapter 9 has a good overview of the state-to-state differences, including information on Texas laws. And of course, you're welcome to contact the library if you have questions about Texas laws!

Elder law answer book

This short title is available in Fastcase, a legal research database available to our library patrons. Chapter 9 covers powers of attorney, including sections on termination and revocation of powers of attorney.

Elder law forms manual: Essential documents for representing the older client

This practice guide is written for attorneys, but may also be a good resource for a person who would like a better understanding of the legal concepts behind this topic. Durable powers of attorney are covered in Chapter 8, and a sample form is included as well.

That concludes our posts for National Estate Planning Awareness Week! Hopefully, this has been a helpful introduction to researching a few of the more common issues in estate planning. As always, feel free to reach out to us directly with any legal research questions related to these or other topics!

National Estate Planning Awareness Week: Living Wills

Happy Halloween from SLL

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