A power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person, the principal, authorizes another person, the agent, to act on their behalf. You appoint this individual and grant them permission to make certain health care and legal decisions if illness or infirmity prevents you from doing so. Below, learn about the different types of arrangements and how to choose someone for this role.

Power of Attorney Types


Your needs will determine which of the following four agreements is most appropriate for your situation: 

  • A conventional, or nondurable, POA goes into effect when it is signed and continues until you become unable to make decisions. The document details the authority given to the agent, such as signing financial or legal documents on your behalf if you are out of town.
  • A durable POA goes into effect at the time of signing but continues for your lifetime unless canceled. Unlike the nondurable agreement, it gives the agent permission to handle your affairs if you are unable to make decisions.
  • A springing POA only goes into effect when certain events occur. For instance, you may want the arrangement to become active only if a medical emergency renders you incapable of decision-making.
  • A medical POA becomes active if the principal experiences specific medical events. It focuses on health care decisions and is both durable and springing in nature. In most cases, the principal is either unconscious or incapacitated and cannot make decisions about their own medical care.

How to Choose a POA

You have the freedom to choose anyone for this role. Most people pick someone close to them, such as a spouse, family member, or trusted friend. However, there are certain key traits and skills you should look for:

  • The individual should work well under pressure and not let their emotions cloud their judgment.
  • They should have competency and comfort with basic legal, financial, and medical decision-making.
  • They should be assertive, articulate, and willing to serve in the role.


If you need assistance designating a power of attorney, contact Wills and Trusts Hawaii. Based in Honolulu, they serve clients throughout Oahu. They offer legal services in all aspects of estate planning, including POAs, wills, living wills, and trusts. Learn more about their services online or call (808) 792-8777 to schedule a consultation.