Military Power of Attorney

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Military Power of Attorney

This article discusses what a Power of Attorney (POA) is, the different types of POAs, when they end, and how to designate one.
Photo credit: Justin Follis. A woman hugs a man from behind


A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal way to have a person act on your behalf. The POA gives someone else the right to act on your behalf on matters that you list in the POA.

If you are the person that gives the authority to someone to act on your behalf, then you are the "principal."

The person who you give the right to act on your behalf is called the "agent."  

The power to act on your behalf can be very specific to a certain task or the power can be very broad. The power can start immediately or only after some event occurs. These events may include events such as if you become mentally unable to manage your tasks by yourself or only after a certain date. The POA does not take away your right to act on your behalf.


All States Are Required to Recognize Military Powers of Attorney

Federal law states that a Military Power of Attorney is legally effective regardless to specific state law. See (10 U.S.C. §1044b).



Different Types of Power of Attorneys

There are different types of Powers of Attorney.  Each type has a different purpose and grants different levels of power to the agent.   

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable POA remains or becomes effective if you become incompetent. Incompetent means that you are unable to manage your affairs. A durable POA must contain exact language regarding what types of things you want your agent to act on your behalf on should you become incapacitated. Without that language, it will not be valid if you do become incapacitated.

  • General Power of Attorney: This type of POA allows the person you assign as your agent to carry on business or other matters for you as the principal. This type of POA usually has very broad powers.

  • Special Power of Attorney: A Special Power of Attorney limits the power of attorney. The person you assign as your agent carries out only certain matters for you as the principal.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is an advance health care directive. It allows you to appoint an person (agent) to make health care decisions for you. This includes the power to consent to or withdraw from any type of medical treatment, even if death results.

    The person you choose as your agent can use the powers given all throughout your life. These powers are effective even after you become disabled, unless it is revoked or the court revokes it. You, as the principal, may combine a Durable Power of Attorney with a Living Will.



When does a Power of Attorney end?

A Power of Attorney can end either by:

  • Setting a specific date for it to end, or
  • If the agent or principal dies, or
  • If you, as the principal, revoke it in writing.


You can revoke a Power of Attorney by giving written notice to the agent. However, if a Power of Attorney is durable and you become incompetent, only the court can revoke it during the time you are incompetent. For example, this could happen if an interested party (someone the POA involves) petitions the court on your behalf, alleging that the attorney has violated their responsibilities.



How do I get a Power of Attorney?

We have some sample Power of Attorney forms. If you are active duty, then your legal assistance staff can prepare a general Power of Attorney based on your own needs.



Additional Resources