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What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a legal document. Its purpose is to appoint a person or persons to manage your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated or cannot complete the tasks yourself.

The durable power of attorney sets forth the specific ways in which the appointed agent is allowed to act on your behalf. An agent does not need to be an attorney. Here are examples of tasks you can direct your agent to perform:

  • Payment of bills
  • Payment of taxes
  • Making investment decisions on your behalf
  • Managing real estate
  • Collecting retirement benefits
  • Operating a business that you own

Why use a durable power of attorney?
Why would you want to create a durable power of attorney for your financial affairs? If you become incapacitated or disabled and cannot speak on your own behalf, the durable power of attorney ensures that your finances will be managed by someone you trust. 

What is a “durable” power of attorney?
Durable means if you become disabled or incapacitated, the power of attorney remains in force. In contrast, a non-durable power of attorney expires if or when you are unable to manage your financial affairs.

When does the durable power of attorney go into effect?
Typically, the durable power of attorney goes into effect when you sign it. An alternative is a “springing” power of attorney, which goes into effect at a specific time in the future. 

When does the durable power of attorney end?
A durable power of attorney expires when you die. If you want a specific person to manage your estate after your death, you must name an executor in your will.