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What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written document in which you appoint someone (an agent) to act on your behalf and manage your affairs.

A Power of Attorney can take many forms:
Durable - an agent can act on your behalf even after you become incapacitated. PA considers all Powers of Attorney durable unless otherwise specified.
Non-durable - an agent can act on your behalf only while you are not incapacitated and is terminated if you become incapacitated
General - an agent can perform any act on your behalf unless limited by applicable law
Limited - an agent can only perform acts specified in the Power of Attorney
Springing - an agent can act only when you are deemed to be incapacitated as certified by your physician

Financial vs. Health Care Power of Attorney

You can have two (2) separate and distinct Powers of Attorney, one specifically for your financial matters (Financial Power of Attorney) and one specifically for your medical matters (Health Care Power of Attorney). By having two (2) separate Powers of Attorney, you are authorizing one person or persons to act with regard to your financial matters, i.e., banking transactions, sale of stocks and bonds, etc.; and a different person or persons to act with regard to your medical decisions, i.e., power to authorize medical or surgical procedures, power to authorize your admission to a nursing home.

Choice of Agent

The Agent has a fiduciary duty to act in the principal's best interest. The primary safeguard against abuse is to choose only those persons in whom you have the greatest amount of trust and making sure they understand their responsibilities. If there is no person or institution you trust, DO NOT execute a Power of Attorney.

Individual vs. Multiple Agents

You can appoint one individual agent or multiple agents; if you appoint multiple agents, you can designate whether they can act individually or if they must act together. You can appoint one individual agent and name a successor if that person cannot act on your behalf.

Powers to Give your Agent

Pennsylvania has twenty-two (22) separately described powers. In addition, you can grant your Agent the power to engage in Medicaid planning; the power to request medical records and information from your physician; waiver of accounting; payment for your agent's services and receipt of medical information from your physician.


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Owlett & Lewis, P.C.
One Charles Street
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 16901
Phone: (570) 723-1000