Estate Planning

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney and How Do I Use It?

What Is a Power of Attorney? 

A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes someone else to act on your behalf for matters related to finances, assets, medical care, and judicial proceedings. It's helpful for those who are disabled or aren't available in person to sign documents. 

Power of Attorney Terms

  • Principal: The person who authorizes a power of attorney
  • Agent: The person who receives a power of attorney.  

Different Types of a Power of Attorney

General Power of Attorney

The agent has absolute power in any matter determined by the particular state's regulations through a general power of attorney. The termination of this authority is possible only if the principal revokes the authority (power of attorney), becomes incapacitated, or passes away. 

Durable Power of Attorney

Through this power of attorney, the principal authorizes an agent to act upon their behalf with a durable agreement. The agreement states that the agent can continue to have a power of attorney after the principal's incapacitation. 

Special or Limited Power of Attorney

Special or limited power of attorney states that the agent can act upon the authority only in specific scenarios. These could include selling a house or asset, managing a particular bank account, or managing a business. 

Spring Durable Power of Attorney

Spring durable power of attorney only comes into effect when a specific event like the incapacitation of the principal occurs.  

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney? 

A durable power of attorney is who manages someone’s estate if they suddenly become incapacitated. As a general power of attorney becomes ineffective when the principal gets incapacitated, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to retain the authority. It allows the agent to continue to act on your behalf only as long as you are alive. 

A durable power of attorney is valid across a range of scenarios, including: 

  • Managing bank accounts 
  • Managing businesses, investments, donations, and charities 
  • Handling legal and insurance claims 
  • Buying and selling assets like real estate, precious items, and vehicles 
  • Filing tax returns and applying for government benefits 
  • Making healthcare decisions for the principal 

Becoming incapacitated while not having a durable power of attorney forces your family to prove your incompetence before a court. It's only after the approval of the court that they can take care of your financial affairs. It's best to have a durable power of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions if you become unable to make them for yourself. It's called durable family power of attorney in some states because the agent is usually a family member. 

Differences Between a General Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney 

A general power of attorney is valid only if the principal can make decisions independently, deeming it unsuitable for critical end-of-life situations. In comparison, a durable power of attorney remains valid even after the principal becomes incapacitated. It remains in effect until the principal's death or until they revoke the power themself. However, some states consider a power of attorney to be durable unless stated otherwise. 

Types of Durable Power of Attorney  

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances: 

A durable power of attorney for finances provides the agent with the power to manage the principal's financial affairs when the principal can't. It's also called a financial power of attorney. 

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: 

A durable power of attorney for healthcare provides the agent the authority to make healthcare decisions on the principal's behalf when they're unable to do it themself.  

How to Use a Durable Power of Attorney? 

The primary use of a power of attorney is creating a document to ensure clarity about the abilities you bestow upon the agent. A durable power of attorney becomes effective when the principal signs the document, but most states also require the document to be notarized. Some powers like making healthcare decisions will only be active after specific events like incapacitation or disability. 

Most third parties demand a copy of the power of attorney or an affidavit from the agent for their records. When exercising this authority, it's also essential to indicate that they act on the principal's behalf.  

Create an Effective Power of Attorney 

Whether you choose a general or durable power of attorney, it's vital to have one, even if it's for backup. It's advisable to periodically review and update the document to ensure everything works for your current situation. 

Complete Wills is an all-in-one platform for all your estate planning needs. You can easily set up a will, trust, power of attorney, or name a guardian for minor children through Complete Wills. Every document you create through the platform is customizable for your specific requirements. We offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you're unsatisfied with your documents. Get started and set yourself up for success with efficient estate planning.

Start Your Will

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Step-by-Step Checklist
  • Save & Edit Anytime
  • State-specific
  • Professional Guidance