A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person or organization (your proxy) to manage your affairs if you are unable to do so. With that said, there are many different types of power of attorney that each grant your proxy different powers.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney grants broad powers to a proxy to act on your behalf. Those powers typically include financial and business transactions, settling claims, making gifts, and purchasing life insurance.
Typically people will grant a general power of attorney if they are out of the country and need someone to handle their affairs, or if they are physically or mentally incapable of managing their affairs.
Special Power of Attorney
A special power of attorney is granted when you want to give a proxy very specific powers. For example, you can grant a special power of attorney to a trusted business partner to handle business transactions while reserving other powers for your family.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney grants your agent or proxy the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or unable to make decisions on your own.
This individual will make decisions regarding what type of facilities you're kept in and what type of treatment you will receive. Many states also allow you to include your preference about being kept on live support within the health care power of attorney.