WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
A legal document that gives the person of my choosing the power to act in my place if I become mentally unable to handle my affairs--ie. for medical care and finances. A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if I become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on my own. With a valid power of attorney, the person I name will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for me (paying bills, managing investments, or directing my medical care.)
To cover all of the issues, it is suggested that two separate documents are prepared: one that addresses my health care issues and another to take care of my finances; making separate documents will keep life simpler for my agent and others. Another suggestion to keep in mind, to name the same agent under both documents. If not, must be sure to name people who will work well together.
MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
A health care directive that sets out my wishes for health care if I am ever too ill or injured to speak for myself. I will also need to look into a living will/health care declaration to provide written health care instructions to my agent and health care providers. Since I am now living in a different state I have a bit more research to do.
My health care agent will work with doctors and other health care providers to make sure I get the kind of medical care I wish to receive. When arranging my care, my agent is legally bound to follow my treatment preferences, hence the need for a living. (It is also important to discuss your wishes with your agent prior to appointing them to avoid any moral or ethical issues---ie. DNR, termination of treatment/brain death, or use of experimental treatments.)
FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
Gives someone I appoint the authority to handle financial transactions on my behalf. It's designed to let someone else manage all of my financial affairs for me if I become incapacitated; a durable power of attorney for finances. The person I name is usually called an agent or attorney-in-fact.
My agent will then be able to handle tasks such as sorting through mail and depositing any possible government checks, as well as watching over my retirement accounts and other investments (moot at this point in time but again that can/will change once employed again), or filing my tax returns.