Powers of attorney are legal instruments that allow other people to act on your behalf. There are many different types, and each could have a unique function in your estate plan.
You might also note that laws vary from state to state, and that the United States has both a statutory and caselaw system. Essentially, the same document could operate differently in North Carolina compared to other jurisdictions.
Durable powers of attorney
As explained by FindLaw, springing powers of attorney are a type of durable power of attorney. This is a category of instruments that survives your incapacitation.
In other words, this type of document can endow powers that let others make decisions on your behalf regardless of your input — even if you are in a coma, for example. In fact, most go into effect when you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
As you might imagine, this is a considerable amount of power. The person you name could have far-reaching freedom to make decisions about your life, finances, medical care and so on.
Springing powers of attorney
Springing powers of attorney spring into effect when certain things happen in your life. You would make this document ahead of time, specifying conditions for it to activate.
One of the most common conditions is incapacitation. In this sense, a springing power of attorney could be similar to a healthcare directive. However, you might also want to specify other conditions, such as deployment to active military service.
Unlike a healthcare directive, a springing power of attorney could endow a wide range of responsibilities. Possibilities include managing your financial affairs. Most people would use this type of instrument as just one part of a larger strategy in their estate plans.