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What Will a Durable Power of Attorney Do?

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Definition of a Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a legal document in which a person (the “principal”) grants another individual (the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) the authority to act on his behalf with respect to certain financial matters or health care decisions.

The “durable” aspect of the document refers to the fact that the agent is permitted to continue to act on behalf of the principal in the event that the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.

 

What a Durable Power of Attorney Covers

What a Durable Power of Attorney Covers

With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can permit an agent to do any or all of the following: withdraw and deposit money into your bank account, pay your bills from your bank account, engage in real estate transactions, sell or buy stocks, pursue insurance claims and initiate legal actions.

With a durable power of attorney for health care, you can permit an agent to make all decisions regarding your health care in the event you become mentally incompetent, including whether or not to turn off life support should you be in a persistent vegetative state.

 

When to Get a Durable Power of Attorney

You should obtain a durable power of attorney for finances if you want to ensure that your agent can continue to handle your financial affairs if you become mentally incompetent due to illness or accident. If you already have a nondurable power of attorney in place, you can change it to a durable one to ensure continuity.

With respect to power of attorneys for health care, however, all such documents must be durable in order for the document to be effective: health care power of attorneys only trigger in the event that the principal becomes mentally or physically incompetent to make medical decisions on his/her own behalf.

 

What a Durable Power of Attorney Covers

What a Durable Power of Attorney Covers

A durable power of attorney must be in writing and contain the phrase, “This power of attorney shall not be affected by my disability” or “This power of attorney shall become effective upon my disability.”

The document should also be signed by the principal in the presence of a notary public. In some states, the power of attorney must also be filed in the county clerk’s office to become effective.

Once a durable power of attorney is established, it will remain in effect until the principal revokes it or dies.

 

Resources

 

Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

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