• Nicolas Grimwood, Esq.

Why You Need Two Powers of Attorney

Most people generally understand the concept of a power of attorney – it’s a means by which you can give someone else the authority to act on your behalf. However, depending on the types of power you want to convey to a third person, you may need two different documents. In Missouri and many other states, the two most common types of powers of attorney are a healthcare power of attorney and a general durable power of attorney.

Keep in mind that you can only validly sign any type of power of attorney if you have capacity. After a person’s ability to make decisions is in question, any power granted under either of these documents will likely not be considered valid. This means you should endeavor to put these powers into place while there’s no question you have the ability to do so.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

As the name implies, a healthcare power of attorney allows you to designate a third person (your “healthcare agent”) to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. While many medical providers offer a very basic version of this document to their patients, these simple forms are typically institution specific (meaning they won’t necessarily be recognized if you receive treatment from another provider) and contain generic language that may not best suit your needs. Giving this power to someone is not a decision to be taken lightly – your healthcare and treatment decisions are exceptionally personal and have long-term implications. That being the case, we strongly recommend that you avoid relying on generic, once-size-fits-all forms and consider meeting with an attorney to discuss what options you have available.

General Durable Power of Attorney

A general durable power of attorney allows the person of your choice (your “agent”) to handle financial, legal, business and other such matters on your behalf. For example, this power of attorney may allow your agent to help you with banking, the sale of a house, or speaking with the IRS. Under this document, you can choose (1) when you would like this power of attorney to become effective (i.e., immediately or only when you can’t make decisions on your own) and (2) how much power your agent will have. Under Missouri law, an agent under this power of attorney can be granted incredibly broad authority. Generally, we recommend adding some reasonable limitations to what your agent can do (i.e., not being allowed to change your will or trust). This tool becomes incredibly helpful for folks who don’t have capacity to adequately manage their own affairs, regardless of whether this is because of temporary impairment (i.e., a short-term hospital stay) or permanent impairment (i.e., developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease).

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about powers of attorney (or other estate planning matters). We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

*This article is intended for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

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Fenton & Grimwood, Attorneys at Law, LLC is located in Branson, MO and serves clients in and around the Ozarks, including such areas as Forsyth, Kirbyville, Hollister, Rockaway Beach, Taneyville, Walnut Shade, Branson West, Ridgedale, Blue Eye, Kimberling City, Galena and Taney, Stone and Christian Counties.


We are a full service estate planning, business law and real estate practice with lawyers able to provide comprehensive planning in the areas of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, probate and trust administration, probate avoidance planning, revocable trusts, long-term care planning, wealth protection, special needs trusts, business succession, charitable planning and estate tax planning. Additionally, we can provide assistance with NFA Gun Trusts, business entity formation, articles of incorporation/organization, operating and partnership agreements, contracts, promissory notes, guaranties and deeds of trust assignments and assumptions, purchase or sale of businesses and business assets, deeds, easements, liens, quiet title actions, leases and  purchase or sale of real property.

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only and the use thereof does not create an attorney-client relationship. The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.​

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