What Does It Mean When A Power Of Attorney Is 'Durable'?

A power of attorney document allows a person to give decision-making authority regarding their affairs to another person. For example, in a financial power of attorney document, a person generally grants another individual management authority regarding their finances (with the scope of the authority depending on the document’s terms).

Now, when forming a power of attorney, there are many choices to make. One is whether or not to make the power of attorney durable. A power of attorney being “durable” means the power of attorney’s active status survives if the individual who formed the power of attorney develops incapacity in the future. In contrast, in a non-durable power of attorney, such incapacity takes the power of attorney out of effect.

So, whether a given power of attorney is durable or non-durable can effect what kind of goals the power of attorney could be turned towards. One of the goals a person may have regarding a financial power of attorney is to control who will be managing their finances in the event that they become incapacitated in the future. Another goal might be to help prevent complex conservatorship matters from coming up in connection to a future situation of incapacity. Clearly, whether a given power of attorney document would survive incapacity can have major implications on how able it would be to help with these two goals.

As this underscores. the choices a person makes and the actions they take when it comes to forming a power of attorney document, such as a financial power of attorney document, can have significant impacts on whether the document will be able to serve the purposes the person hopes it will. Mistakes when it comes to power of attorney documents could leave important goals a person has unserved. So, having a skilled estate planning lawyer’s guidance and help can be very beneficial when it comes to creating a financial power of attorney or other power of attorney.

Source: Cornell University Law School - Legal Information Institute, “Durable Power of Attorney,” Accessed May 2, 2016

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