What is the difference between a will and a power of attorney? Can a power of attorney substitute for a will?

A power of attorney can do many things, but only while the person who granted it is alive. For instance, your attorney-in-fact (that is, the person appointed to handle financial affairs under a durable power of attorney) would likelyhave authority to pay your bills, talk to your bank and insurer, and collect rents for you while you are ill. But when you die, the power of attorney terminates, and the one to take care of your financial affairs would be your personal representative (a.k.a. executor or executrix) under your will or, in the alternative, an administrator appointed by the court if you die intestate.

Thus, a proper estate plan generally includes both a financial power of attorney and a will.