How to: Durable Power of Attorney

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A durable power of attorney is an important estate-planning tool for a person who is growing older and whose health may eventually become an issue. A "durable" power of attorney differs from a general power of attorney because it continues on uninterrupted despite the fact that the person who has granted the durable power of attorney becomes incapacitated; a general power of attorney is automatically revoked when the person becomes incapacitated. Granting a durable power of attorney means you are authorizing someone to act in your place, so you must choose a trustworthy individual.

Select the person in your life you trust above all others, who will act as you would and respect your wishes. This person may be a grown child or another close relative, or it may be your attorney if you have developed a close relationship.

Make an appointment with an experienced estate-planning attorney to draw up a general power of attorney --- special language must be included in order for the power of attorney to be made durable. States have different requirements, so you should consult an attorney and not attempt to draw up your own durable power of attorney.

Tell your attorney that you want your power of attorney to be durable and not be revoked should you become incapacitated by a stroke or other disabling health incident.

Because requirements will vary from state to state, your attorney will title the document "Durable Power of Attorney." The body of the document will recite that you, the grantor, desire that the Power of Attorney shall be Durable and shall survive your incapacity and that the authority you have entrusted shall not cease in the event you become incapacitated.

Warnings

  • Be careful when selecting the person you want to have your durable power of attorney. That person will act as your agent, and you can be held legally responsible for the agent's actions.

Tips

  • A durable power of attorney can be a more effective tool than merely adding an authorized user to your checking account and allowing that person to help pay your bills should your health begin to decline. The durable power of attorney will allow someone to make some health-care decisions for you and enter into contracts on your behalf, as well as handle your financial matters.
  • A durable power of attorney is revoked at the grantor's death, and can also be revoked in writing at any time.

References

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