You may have heard in the past that you need a power of attorney document in your estate plan, but you may not know what kind you need. There are several different POA documents that you can select from when choosing agents to care for you or your affairs. One of those is called a springing power of attorney.
A springing power of attorney is special because it does not become effective until you are incapacitated. Essentially, it “springs” into action at the moment it’s needed and not before that time.
With a springing power of attorney, the POA only comes into play if your incapacitation makes it so that you can’t take care of your affairs.
What makes a springing power of attorney different than a durable power of attorney?
Unlike a durable power of attorney, a springing power of attorney isn’t immediately active. With a durable power of attorney, the person you’ve designated to act on your behalf will be able to do so immediately after you sign the document. If you are in need of support right away, a durable power of attorney may make sense. If you’re just trying to plan for incapacitation in the future, a springing power of attorney makes more sense.
What does it mean to be incapacitated?
Incapacitation is a triggering event for a springing power of attorney. Incapacitation refers to no longer having the ability to take care of yourself or your affairs. For example, if you’re in an auto accident and are left with a significant mental decline, you may not be able to care for yourself. Unconsciousness may also be considered incapacitation under certain circumstances.
If you’d like to make sure that the POA won’t go into effect without cause, you can ask that at least two physicians’ signatures are needed to state that you are medically incapacitated before it may be triggered.
With so many kinds of POA available, it’s a good idea to go over your wishes and to see which type would be right for you. They have different purposes, so setting up alternate POAs for various circumstances that could arise may be a good option for you.