Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document in which a person, known as the principal, designates another person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act for the principal in matters other than health care. It contains a broad grant of authority that enables the agent to handle the principal’s financial affairs, including paying bills, buying and selling assets, making bank deposits and withdrawals, signing tax returns, completing beneficiary designation forms and making gifts for specific purposes. This document may also be limited to one or more specific purposes. So long as the principal is competent, the principal can revoke a durable power of attorney.

In most cases, the agent’s authority to act under a durable power of attorney is effective once the principal executes the document. The agent’s authority to act continues in effect even if the principal becomes incompetent, but terminates upon the principal’s death. The principal may choose not to release the durable power of attorney to the agent until it is needed, in which case Flood, Sheehan & Tobin, PLLC is willing to retain possession of the original document, which will only be released to the agent in accordance with written instructions provided to us by the principal.

If an adult has a durable power of attorney in place and becomes incompetent, typically there will be no need to resort to a guardianship over the estate. Instead, the agent will have the authority to make non-health care related decisions for the incompetent person.